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Andrew K. Johnson
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Questions to Ask before Setting 2017 Personal Finance Resolutions

(And 5 Tips to Consider)

(FARMINGTON HILLS, MI – December 27, 2016) -  It’s that time of year again, when we want to start fresh and new. January 1 has traditionally been the starting point for resolutions, whether you are looking to lose weight, start an exercise program or get a handle on your finances. GreenPath Financial Wellness, a nationwide, non-profit credit counseling and education organization, says it pays to take some time to reflect and ask some questions, before diving in with a new spreadsheet and money goals. Think about:

WHAT WENT RIGHT IN 2016

  • What went well with your finances? 
  • What actions did you take to succeed? 
  • Did you pay down debt?
  • Did you increase savings? 
  • Did you make a major purchase or pay for an event with cash?
  • Did you overcome any financial obstacles?

The successes and milestones reached in 2016 are learning experiences that can help you, as you set some succinct, specific goals in 2017.

Once you list successes, flip the coin and think about areas where you may have come up short.

AREAS TO REVIEW

  • What could have gone better? 
  • Where are the areas for improvement? 
  • What held you back? 
  • What changes can you make? 
  • Is your savings where you wanted it? 
  • Were you too aggressive with your savings goals?
  • Should you try again with a more realistic amount?

Don’t beat yourself up on any shortcomings. Use them as learning experiences to improve your position in 2017. Consider trying something new if things didn’t go according to plan in 2016.

“If you promised yourself you would save receipts and forgot half way through the first week, maybe try an app,” said Katie Bossler, GreenPath financial wellness expert. “Or, if you have an app you never used, maybe try putting pen to paper and keeping a spending journal.”

Once you have your financial resolutions set, start thinking of the small things you can do right away.  “Maybe it means not getting that cup of coffee, or deciding against that online order,” said Bossler.  “Maybe it means deciding to cook something for dinner with food you already have, rather than eating out.”

By taking time to reflect and setting realistic goals, you might be on your way to reviewing a long list of financial successes on December 31, 2017!

GreenPath also has put together five ideas to consider in the New Year:

5 Quick Financial Resolutions for 2017

  1. Open a separate savings account to force yourself to build an emergency savings fund. Make it separate from your main financial institution, with no ATM card, so you will be forced to go into a branch to withdraw money.
  2. Educate yourself. Check out some books on personal finance or subscribe to a magazine or personal finance blog. GreenPath is offering a special webinar on January 11 at noon ET on “Prioritizing Your Debt in 2017”. To learn more or sign-up, log on to www.greenpath.org/calendar.
  3. Pull your credit score and report. A good way to start the year is to find out exactly where you stand financially. Download your credit report (one free each year from each of the three main reporting bureaus) at www.annualcreditreport.com.
  4. Plan ahead. Get in the habit each night of preparing for the next day: Packing lunches, prepping breakfast and dinner.  That way you will not be tempted to buy convenience food on the run, because you are rushed.
  5. Unsubscribe. Remove the temptation of impulse buying online by unsubscribing from retail email.  This can take some time, but, ultimately, you will save time and money by not being bombarded with emails “deals”, tempting you to buy.

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GreenPath Financial Wellness is a nationwide, non-profit financial counseling and education organization. GreenPath has been empowering people to lead financially healthy lives since 1961. Their financial experts partner with consumers to empower them to ease financial stress, manage debt, save for the future, make informed financial decisions, and achieve their financial goals. Headquartered in Farmington Hills, Michigan, GreenPath operates about 60 branch offices in 17 states. They also deliver licensed services throughout the United States over the Internet and telephone. GreenPath is a member of the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC), and is accredited by the Council on Accreditation (COA). The organization has an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau. For more information, visit www.greenpath.com.