We love a new year and a new opportunity to set some money goals for ourselves. Here are some suggestions for great financial goals for 2022.
1. Start a budget.
I mean, this had to be #1, right? Your money situation isn’t going to improve until you get a handle on where your money is going! I like YNAB, but you can use a spreadsheet, Mint, EveryDollar, cash envelopes, or even just a pen and paper.
2. Open a Roth IRA.
Roth IRAs are sweet. Maybe you already have a regular IRA or a 401k. Most smart people will tell you to split the difference between a traditional (pre-tax) account and a Roth (post-tax) investment account. If you’re just starting with investing or maybe your company doesn’t offer a 401k, a Roth is an awesome place to start. Check it out!
3. Set up some automatic savings.
In my previous blog post about how to create resolutions that don’t suck, I mentioned that you have to create systems to save you from yourself. Try it now and start small, by creating an automatic transfer from your checking to a savings account of your choice.
4. Save $1,000 for an emergency fund.
A survey by Bankrate says that 60% of Americans don’t have $1,000 for an emergency. Having even just a small amount set aside for an unexpected car repair or medical bill will give you peace of mind and help you break that pesky paycheck-to-paycheck cycle. Not sure how to start? Start with a budget and see how much you can afford to set aside.
5. Eat out less for a month.
To make a profit, restaurants charge about a 300% markup on the items they serve. Yiiiiikes. That’s cause you’re not only paying for food, you’re paying for overhead like rent, servers, and general convenience. If you do the math, grabbing a $15 lunch every day and a $5 coffee on the way to work and ordering delivery pizza will really add up.
Why not try to skip the takeout for a month (or a week, I’m not here to judge)? Make your coffee at home, pack a meal to work, and try your favorite freezer meals for a while. My favorite tip: convenience grocery foods are your friend here (think frozen lasagna). Even though they’re more expensive at the store, they are still way cheaper than eating out.
6. Pay off your credit card debt.
Debt can be like an invisible, heavy monster that you carry around with you and it just keeps stealing money out of your wallet. Let’s banish the monster this year. There are many steps to getting rid of debt, but the first step is finding out how much debt you have, and making a plan. We can do this.
7. Start saving for your next computer or phone.
Ah yes, one of the notorious true expenses that sneak up on us. I just bought a new phone a few months ago, and it will last me many years. But you best believe, I’ve already started saving for the next one.
The thing about computers and phones is that they are the new essentials. They wear out, they need to be replaced, and they are really expensive. As soon as you buy one, start saving for the next one. Right now I’m saving $5/month for the next one. Even if you don’t have the whole amount saved by the time your current machine breaks down, something is better than nothing!
8. Get the full employer match for your 401k.
I’m sure you’ve heard this before. Employer matches are like freeeeee moneyyyy. We love that.
Many employers will offer to match up to a certain amount of your salary. For example, “we’ll match 100% up to 3% and 50% up to 6%” blah blah blah. The point is, if you are contributing up to 6%, you’re getting all the free money available.
Not everyone can afford to save the recommended 15-20% into their 401k, but if your employer offers a match, try to save at least enough to get the full match.
9. Save for a vacation.
What if you could pay all cash money for your next vacation? No credit card charges that can’t be paid off. We all deserve a little rest and relaxation now and then. Start saving for your next vacation now in your budget!
10. Reduce your subscriptions.
Most of us overestimate what we get from subscriptions. Sure, you’re paying $10 a month for Spotify Premium, but are you listening to the same 50 songs over and over again, most of them from the early 2000s? (Just me? Okay.) And the one everyone under-uses: gym memberships. YEP. How often do you really use that dang thing?
Subscriptions are tricky because they can be very “out of sight, out of mind”. Sometimes we pay for things we don’t even use anymore. Make a list of all your subscriptions (a software with direct import like YNAB can help you catch them all) and decide intentionally what to keep that brings real value to your life.
11. Make a will.
Listen, wills aren’t just for old people. Without one, in the event of your death, your stuff will be distributed according to state laws and NOT according to what you want. If you’re wondering if you need a will… yeah, you do. Got kids or other loved ones? Have a house? Is your net worth positive? Are you over 25? Are you breathing?
Having a will protects your family and your assets. Don’t put it off!
12. Maximize your credit card rewards.
We live in a time of alluring credit card bonuses. If you have a good relationship with debt and are able to pay off your cards in full and on-time, this year could be great opportunity to explore the wonderful world of credit card points. The best part is, you can find the card that works best for your lifestyle. Love to travel? Tons of travel point rewards cards out there. Prefer cashback? We have those too.
I have even gone as far as to label my credit cards to remind me what they should be used for, according to bonuses. Yeah, I’m kinda extra.
13. Pay down your student loans.
Cut down the repayment term for your student loan by paying more than the minimum. You can also try playing around with a debt payoff calculator to see, “What would paying an extra 20/50/100 per month do to my loans? How much faster can I pay this off?”
14. Make a commitment to buy fun things with cash only.
If you have a habit of splurging on treats for yourself or others with available credit, set your credit cards aside. For a month, only buy fun things with cash that you have on hand. Whether you use physical cash or a debit card, the point here is to get yourself out of the mindset that available credit is money that you can spend on fun.
Breaking your reliance on debt will lead you to financial freedom down the road!
15. Buy some crypto.
Personally, I equate cryptocurrency to gambling. But since the world is abuzz about crypto, toss a few bucks and have fun watching the waves go up and down.
But please, please don’t invest more than you can afford to lose!
16. Donate more.
The wold is burning, and the internet constantly bombards us with the latest global crisis. It can feel paralyzing to try and fix everything, so I find it best to pick one thing.
What do you care about? What communities do you want to support? Pick a charity that is doing good work and become a monthly donor this year.
17. Grant a wish.
Have you been eyeing a Kitchenaid mixer or that one video game for a while? This is the year to make those wishes come true. Create a category for something you’ve been wanting and funnel a couple extra dollars into it whenever you can. Making sure you’re budgeting for something fun is a really important part of sticking to your budgeting plan!
18. Meal plan.
Take eating at home a step further and plan your meals for the next few days. Spend a Sunday cooking a few freezer meals and set your future self up for success.
19. Go on a budget date with your partner.
Checking in with your partner about your mutual goals can be stressful, especially if money is a strained topic in your partnership. To lighten the mood, go on a budget date. Treat it like a normal date: get dressed up, have a change of scenery, eat some food, and have drinks. When you’re both fed, talk about your money goals and anything you anticipate coming up for your budget in the next month.
20. Start a side hustle.
We could all use a couple extra bucks. Think of a few things you could do as a side hustle during your downtime! A few favorites: cleaning houses, driving for a rideshare company, delivering groceries, or flipping thrifted items!
21. Calculate your net worth.
New Year’s is a great time to check in on how your net worth is doing. Make a list of your assets and liabilities to get a clear picture of how you’re doing. Better yet, check your net worth quarterly to see how your progress is going!
22. Save money on insurance.
Getting regular quotes is a fantastic way to save money on insurance. Whether it’s your business liability, auto, home, or renter’s policy, get a quote and see if you should hop to a new provider!
23. Choose one habit to break.
Yes, just one. Maybe you grab a cup of Starbucks every morning, maybe you smoke, or any other vice you’re hoping to lose. Add this category into your budget and assign less dollars to it (or if you’re feeling ambitious, zero dollars). You can still buy it if you really want, but you’re now forced to pull that money from somewhere else. It helps give you the clarity of the tradeoff you’re making when you spend money on your vice.
What’s your new year’s resolution going to be this year? Let us know in the comments!