Hey, Happy New Year! How was your New Year’s Eve?

Did you party like it’s 1999 and spend 1 Jan on the lounge, feeling sorry not sorry?

Did you buy the kids sparklers, let them run around, and hoped they crash out before midnight so you could sneak in an early night?

Personally I’m a low-key NYE kinda gal. This year I stayed up and drank espresso martinis with good friends. I also made the lovely Amy Pearson take a bunch of photos of me looking festive. You like?

Anyway, we are all hopefully waking up to the new year and the new decade with a spring in our steps, a positive attitude and nothing more than a slight hangover.

And gurrrrl we are ready to OWN IT on the financial front. AMIRIGHT?

As Chief Fierce Girl, I’m here to be your head coach and head cheerleader, because I’m multi-talented like that.

We don’t need to make unrealistic resolutions. We don’t need to put our credit cards in the freezer. We don’t need to makeover our entire financial situation.

But let’s all do things a little bit better in 2020, starting today! Ok, maybe tomorrow if you need a burger and a nap.

And here are some questions to help you on the way.

1. What habits am I going to break?

We all have our pitfalls when it comes to spending. I’m sure you know yours. You don’t have to commit to fixing all of them. But maybe pick one or two.

This is mine: when I go to the shopping centre to buy groceries, I can do it all on the lower levels. I have zero need to get on the escalators and yet, I convince myself that I just need to ‘look’ in K-Mart in case there is something I’ve forgotten I need.

And then, not only do I go broke saving money in that bargains black hole, I see all the other shops. Like, once you’re up there, you may as well go up to Sephora. And so on…

So, this year, no K-Mart check-ins. If I haven’t written something on a list ahead of time, I am anchored to the boring grocery level. Sigh.

The key here is to start small and realistic. I’m lying to myself if I think I will not buy any new makeup this year. But I can definitely achieve the goal of not going up some escalators.

What are your bad habits, and which one/s will you tackle?

2. What habits am I going to create?

One of the keys to getting on top of money (or anything in life) is to slowly build good habits, which eventually add up.

Last year I committed to tracking all my spending for a while. Every coffee, every snack. Not gonna lie, I didn’t do it all year. But I did commit it to it for a couple of months to get a better handle on where my money goes. It was a useful exercise. (I used TrackMySpend app and recommend it. The part where you have to decide if it’s a want or a need is particularly illuminating. Like, is coffee a need if you’re a dirty caffeine addict like me?)

Other small habits you might consider, depending on your situation:

  • Committing to making your own lunch at least four times a week
  • Checking your bank statements at least weekly to see your spending and check there are no dodgy transactions
  • Learning something new about money regularly – perhaps it’s reading the Money section of the newspaper, subscribing to a blog like this one, or following some interesting money people on social media
  • Having a regular money date night – either with yourself or your partner. This is a chance to review spending, bills, goals, investments. Sure there are hotter date nights in the world, but at least you don’t have to try and stay awake for sexy time later on.

This is not an exhaustive list. I suspect you know which good habits you’d like to build. So, pick one and go for it. Then when you have nailed it, pick the next. Head over to my home boy James Clear and read his stuff on habits – he’s the best.

3. Am I treating myself or cheating myself?

Spending can be just like any other vices, such as drinking booze or eating junk food. It feels good, briefly soothes our soul, but ultimately takes us further from our goals.

But just like food and booze, it’s all about the dose.

It’s probably ok to treat yourself to a nice restaurant, a new outfit or a good facial if you have done it thoughtfully.

Like, you set a goal and achieved it. Or you want a special night out with your partner. Or you have finished a particularly stressful period at work and want to unwind.

But if it’s constant and mindless, you might be veering into ‘masking my pain and stress’ territory.

If you think you’re more in the latter, I’d urge you to think about your spending traps. Look at your bank statements, track your spending, listen to that annoying friend who guilt trips you for buying stupid stuff (apparently I’m one of them).

And then work out if there is a better way to handle your feelings or stress. (Yoga anyone?).

You can also put in place rules and hacks to help dial it down. I am a fan of filling my online shopping cart, then leaving it for 24 hours. In 9 out of 10 cases, I don’t buy it.

Or set up a dedicated ‘treat yoself’ account and limit your mindless spending to that

I personally would put most expensive beauty treatments in this category. Nobody needs eyelash extensions, botox or fillers. But I’m not here to tell you how to spend your cash – I just want you to really think about it. What’s driving it and is it taking you away from your goal?

And that’s all the friendly advice I’m gonna drop on you this New Year’s Day. I hope 2020 is a great year for you. And if you want to come along on the ride towards financial freedom, fill in that ‘subscribe’ box up top and stay tuned for more fun times!

Fierce Girl Finance