“I feel a bit lost – like I need to get my job and money under control. I’m thinking these should be my New Year’s resolutions this year. Do you have any tips?” – Andreas from Milwaukee, WI
Forget the New Year’s resolutions – the time to start planning for next year is now. Amid your holiday shopping, seasonal events and annual get togethers with friends and family, take some time this December to focus on YOU and how to make 2014 more productive both professionally and financially. Consider these steps:
Make a professional development plan. Create a list of what you want to accomplish in 2014. Maybe it’s finding a job after being unemployed, maybe it’s getting a promotion at your current job or maybe it’s going back to school to earn a degree or other credential – whatever you want to achieve, put it down on paper. Then start mapping out the smaller steps you’ll need to take to make each of those items happen. Hang your list in a prominent place – such as the refrigerator or bathroom mirror – to remind you of what you want to accomplish.
Review your benefits. If you work full-time and receive benefits from your employer, you can usually only make changes to your plans—such as your health care enrollment — during a set period of time at the end of each year. Use this time to review your current benefits and determine whether you need to increase — or decrease — your deductions for 2014.
Make a budget. It’s hard to save if you don’t know what you’re spending. Get real about your spending habits by making an official household budget to stick to in the new year. You can use something as basic as a spreadsheet or an online calculator, or something more advanced like Mint.com.
Direct money to your retirement plan. Investing even a small amount of money now will pay off in helping ensure you can support yourself as you reach your retirement years. If you’re already directing money to a retirement plan — such as a 401(k), 403(b) or IRA — take a new look at your finances to see if you can increase your contribution amount. If you’re new to investing, contact your bank or get in touch with your local Goodwill career services center to learn about your options and how to make small spending changes that will help you put more money toward retirement.
Need assistance or resources to achieve your career and financial plans for 2014? Use the locator at http://www.goodwill.org to find your nearest Goodwill career center.