We essentially have a financial illiteracy epidemic on our hands right now. The events of the past few years have proven how little most of us know about responsible money management, and it seems that our children know even less. —Founder and CEO of CardHub
As most people know, following through on New Year’s resolutions is often harder than it sounds — a lot harder.
According to How Stuff Works, a website popular for its insights into the mundane inner workings of daily life most of us take for granted, 77 percent of Americans give up on their New Year’s resolutions before even taking the first step toward trying to fulfill them.
“One of the most common reasons we break our New Year's resolutions is that we get a little overzealous when we make them and we over-commit,” Maria Trimarchi writes on HowStuffWorks.com. “And as a result, 40 percent of us blame our busy schedules for our lack of follow-through.”
A busy life is simply something most Americans have to deal with. Yahoo Finance reported last June that 65 percent of Americans say they are not able to make time for themselves at least once a day, despite the fact that 98 percent of those same respondents said that doing so is very important.
As New Year’s resolutions begin to drop off of the radar, making sure your personal finances are in order should hopefully continue as a top priority and not be tossed out with some of the more frivolous goals.
To help you stay on track for this year’s financial goals, DeseretNews.com had the chance to talk with a few financial experts about some fundamental financial goals that, if properly executed, might set the stage for a better year financially.
Getting out of debt
First and foremost, the experts we spoke to emphasized the importance of getting out of debt.
According to a report by CardHub, Americans chalked up close to $11.9 billion in new credit card debt during the third quarter of 2013. As debt continues to be a growing concern among financial advisors, it’s no wonder that CardHub’s founder and CEO Odysseas Papadimitriou suggests that eliminating the personal debt crisis should be in the forefront of everyone’s mind this year.
“Given how corrosive credit card interest is to investing and retirement planning as well as how vulnerable the lack of an emergency fund makes us to the vicissitudes of the economy, paying off amounts owed should be a major priority in the New Year,” Papadimitriou told DeseretNews.com in an email.
Improve your child’s financial literacy
Financial concerns shouldn’t be limited to the big kids only.
As Neale Godfrey wrote in the Huffington Post on Jan. 8, financial literacy is “the key to a financially secure and independent future for our children.”
But as Godfrey also points out, most schools in America aren’t fitting the bill: “The task falls on parents," she wrote.
“We essentially have a financial illiteracy epidemic on our hands right now,” Papadimitriou also said in the email. “The events of the past few years have proven how little most of us know about responsible money management, and it seems that our children know even less.”
Teach by example
The best way to teach is by example, and what better place is there to show children how it’s done than in the home, and with the home?
John Bodrozic, co-founder of the home-management web tool HomeZada, has a few pointers for organizing and cost-cutting home maintenance, a major regular expense that oftentimes can get out of hand.
“Keeping up with routine maintenance keeps your equipment running longer which saves on replacement costs,” Bodrozic told DeseretNews.com. “It also keeps the home running efficient and in a healthy manner.”
According to Bodrozic, one of the best ways to keep up with the many home improvement projects that might pop up in 2014 is to create a property maintenance calendar. Doing so might just be the difference you need to maintain the value of your home.
Bodrozic also suggests keeping close tabs on all home related expenses, including “understanding the difference between what the purchase price was, the tax assessed value, any appraised value for a refinance, and the insured amount to re-build the home.”
According to an Echo Research survey, roughly 72 percent of Americans in 2013 said they were planning on doing at least one home improvement project that year — everything from remodeling to basic repairs. If the same is to be said for 2014, curbing any unnecessary home expenses could lift a huge financial burden, and possibly be the difference between a firm financial foundation, and a crumbling infrastructure.
Of course, there are plenty more steps to consider while working toward a more financially secure 2014, but hopefully these steps will provide a stable start.