2015 is quickly wrapping up and you may be thinking about ways to make 2016 your best year ever.  Especially when it comes to your finances.  After the holiday spending sprees, many people are faced with big bills to pay in January.  Fortunately, with a little forethought and planning now, you can turn your finances around in the new year.

You don’t need to have the same financial picture in 2016, you can set goals and plan to increase your income, maximize tax savings and look for ways to save money that will benefit you for years to come.

Those who fail to plan, plan to fail.  Don’t put off for tomorrow what you can do today.  Penny wise but pound foolish.  We’ve all heard these quotes before, but what you KNOW doesn’t matter.  It’s what you DO with what you KNOW.

Today is the day to work on your strategy to make the new year a financially stable one.

Here are 13 tips that you can implement today.

  1. Start your emergency fund: Don’t rely on a credit card to bail you out should an emergency arise.  I use credit cards to my advantage when they have high cash back rates (My AMEX card gives 6% back on groceries and 3% back on gas – better than any savings account interest will pay). BUT, I only use them for pre-budgeted expenses that I know I can pay off that month.  A solid emergency fund should consist of six months to a year’s living expenses.  Yes, that’s a lot and may seem overwhelming.  Break it down and start setting that money aside now.  You need to start somewhere, every dollar will help. Keep this money separate to take care of unexpected situations that will put pressure on your finances when they occur. Notice I said WHEN.  Bad things happen to everyone and you need to be prepared. This brings us to the next point.
  2. Pay yourself first: If you spend everything you make (or more), you can’t begin to build wealth.  That’s a fact.  You need to consider your nest egg a necessary expense. Plan to keep aside at least ten percent of your gross income in order to plant the seeds for growing wealth.
  3. Personal development: “You will be the same person in five years as you are today except for the people you meet and the books you read”.   This quote by Charlie Jones is one of my favorites.  All great leaders read voraciously for personal development, and you should too. You can’t begin to implement knowledge you don’t have.  Read books about areas in life that you struggle with.  Surround yourself with the advice and insight of others who know more than you on a particular topic.  Financial books are a great place to start if you want to change your financial status.  If you do what you did, you’ll get what you got.  Do something different this year!
  4. Affirmations are powerful: I’m not talking about voodoo or trying to will something into reality, but words and thoughts have a tremendous impact on changing your behavior. The Bible declares there is power in the tongue. What you say and how you think becomes a rudder for the choices you make.  Speak words that encourage and inspire.  Think that you CAN instead of you WISH you could.  Say what you’re going to change out loud.  Write down your goals and actions you WILL take to achieve them.  Share them with others, but be careful who you share them with.  Some people will shoot down your excitement or be critical of your potential.  Don’t give one person the power to affect you in a negative way, so choose your confidants carefully and find someone who will be supportive of you while holding you accountable. 
  5. Be innovative and creative: Become an idea-driven individual. Thoughts and new ideas are what can set the stage for a new way of living. There is always room for improvement and new ideas. Constantly question what you currently have with a problem-solving attitude. Ask yourself, “How can I make this better?” Brainstorm new ways of making money and turn problems into income.
  6. Profit from your passion: Every person has a passion and a unique God-given ability to see and do things differently than everyone else.  What you would do for free (or even pay to do) is a good clue as to what you’re passionate about. Chances are high that others would pay you for your expertise, talents and passions. For example, I love to research and solve problems.  When someone is struggling, I like to break that down into how they could fix it.  I’ve used this passion in my virtual assistant business, in this blog and in everyday conversation.  It makes my working days be enjoyable even when they are stressful. Making money from your passion is a great way to avoid burnout too. You can monetize your passion as well, it just takes a bit of brainstorming and advice from others on finding your talents.
  7. Start a side business: Multiple streams of income is a great way to start establishing wealth.  These days, one income takes a lot of sacrifices to make ends meet, let alone establish wealth. Even if it is sufficient, what if something happens to that source of income?  Nothing is guaranteed.  It is important, especially for employees, to start a side business for some extra “cushion” income. There are SO many options out there.  What can you do today that would bring in some extra cash?  Don’t keep putting it off.  You don’t need to go big, just start doing something.  If it doesn’t work out, try something else.  No need to invest a lot of time or money to start profiting.
  8. Upscale your existing business: In 2015, I found ways to make money blogging.  That led to other opportunities as I became familiar with WordPress, graphics, email management systems and marketing.  My new knowledge led me into the virtual assistant business and it paid off.  Your current business might be profitable, but what can you do to increase your income? Can you add a new service?  Ride the next trend?  Market yourself in new social media platforms?  Find customers who may not know you exist? Always find ways to expand your services or products, cut costs and find new customers.
  9. Become a problem solver: Money is a reward for solving problems. You will make money when you solve problems. Let’s be honest, there are MANY problems in the world.  The richest people regularly solve problems for large amounts of people. Focus on solving problems for as many people as you can and money will be the reward.
  10. Do something and start now: Just DO IT!  Don’t wait. The perfect time to start building wealth is now! Procrastination and fear are one of the biggest barriers limiting you from creating wealth. Start small and take baby steps. Rome wasn’t built in a day.  Don’t let small setbacks or plateaus discourage you either. That’s when real growth can take place and you can learn how to improve.  Keep moving forward!
  11. Study rich people: Spending some time studying the rich allows you to see what they did to make wealth.  Be careful though, make sure you study the people who became rich with integrity and a heart to serve others.  There are those rich people that use nefarious ways of creating wealth and trust me, you don’t want to go down that path.  Your finances should be used to HELP others solve problems, and HELP others when they’re struggling.  No amount of money will help you sleep well at night if you’re dishonest in your endeavors.
  12. Don’t give up: Life is full of setbacks and roadblocks.  You will have struggles. There will be losses and there will be mistakes made.  Keep going, persevere.  It probably won’t be easy or everyone would be wealthy. Don’t stop learning, keep moving forward and things will get better. If you are at your lowest point financially, the only place to go is up!
  13. Give generously: Anne Franke once said, “No one has ever become poor by giving”.  That is so TRUE!  Strive to give at least 10% of your gross income to ministries and charities that are helping others.  Make an impact in the lives of others. You only have one life to share what God has blessed you with.  Bless others with that and be generous.

The new year is fast approaching and it’s up to you to change your financial picture. Start with these strategies to make 2016 your best financial year to date. What advice do you have for building wealth?  I’d love for you to comment and share with others to encourage them as well!