If you made a New Year’s resolution to improve your finances in 2014, but you feel like you’ve blown it during the first half of the year, don’t despair. All isn’t lost—even if you may feel like a lot of your cash has been.
No matter what you have or haven’t done between January and June, there are still six more months of the year for you to make that resolution stick. Here are four ways to reach your financial goals in the second half of 2014.
1. Organize your financial paperwork
Some people have trouble meeting their financial goals simply because their financial paperwork is messy and highly disorganized. Regardless of whether you want to save more money, improve your credit rating, take control of your investments or something else, good record-keeping will help you more readily achieve your desired outcome.
So organize your bills and create a master list of all open accounts and balances so you have a good idea of how many accounts you actually have.
You’ll need separate lists of your assets (bank accounts and investments) and your liabilities (credit cards, personal loans, bank loans and other debts). Plan on reviewing this master list once a month throughout the rest of the year so you have an accurate idea of where you stand financially.
Also, it doesn’t matter if you prefer to store documents in electronic format or in paper records. As long as you can readily retrieve and update your records, just use whatever record-keeping system works best for you.
2. Run a “what if” analysis
Have you ever contemplated what would happen if a major life event interrupted your personal or professional progress or made it very difficult for you to achieve your goals?
Would you be able to accomplish your objectives—or just make ends meet—if you lost your job, got into a serious car accident, lost your investment assets, or even lost your home in a fire, tornado or another natural disaster?
Consider a few different scenarios but don’t drive yourself frantic with worry by fretting excessively about the future. Just make sure you’ve thought through a few potential “worst case” situations and how you would respond to them.
Ideally, after a bit of contemplation, you’ll come to the conclusion that taking certain precautions, or even simply having extra cash on hand, could be helpful in any personal or financial emergency. So start working towards padding an emergency account to cover your bases throughout the second half of 2014. That will help you start out 2015 on stronger financial footing.
3. Share your goals with someone you trust
Accountability plays an important role in reaching many of your personal goals—including your financial ones. Share some of your goals with someone you trust so you can “check in” with them periodically throughout the remainder of the year.
The individual you select should be someone you feel comfortable revealing your successes to—as well as admitting when you’ve gone astray or that you’ve let some of your bad financial habits get the best of you.
Sometimes knowing that you’re answerable to somebody else can prompt you to stay focused and on track with meeting your financial goals.
4. Swap goals with your significant other
For those who are married, or in committed relationships, even if your significant other isn’t your accountability partner, it can still be very helpful to share your goals with that other person in your life—and have him or her do the same thing.
By swapping, or sharing goals with your spouse, or significant other, you may be surprised to see what some of your partner’s goals are.
It’s helpful to do this because then you both have an idea about where each person wants to spend money. You can also see where you have goals in common. Being aligned with one another, in terms of long-term goals, can be an especially strong way to bond with your partner.
That’s no small task given the amount of financial fighting that goes on with most couples. In fact, 70% of all divorced people cite arguments over money as one factor in their breakups.
So if you see a goal that your partner would like to accomplish in the future, now is the time to begin talking about how the two of you will meet that goal. For example, assume you want to go back to school in a year, and he wants to launch a new business in a year.
How do you prioritize your goals? Compromises will often have to be made. But at least you’ve began the process of bringing your dreams to fruition—by putting those goals on paper, discussing them thoroughly, and considering what steps are required to get you there.
By following these four tips, you—and your better half—can reach your financial goals in the second half of 2014 and beyond.