As we start a new year, it may be a good idea to create some financial goals for yourself. Whether you want to save for a vacation or big event, pay down your credit card debt, or build up your long-term savings, having a plan is important to achieving your goal.

When choosing what goals to set for yourself, it’s important to be realistic with your lifestyle. For example, if you’re currently making $30,000, it’s not realistic to set a goal of making $1,000,000 the next year. However, you can set the goal of making more money than you did in the previous by taking on side jobs like walking dogs or house cleaning for example. This along with lowering your currently living expenses can really make a difference over time.

Whatever your financial goals are, consider these action steps that can help you achieve them.

Quit Memberships That You’re Not Actively Using
Do you find yourself in the habit of signing up for memberships and then not benefitting from it? You’re not alone. Up to 80% of Americans that have a gym membership don’t use the gym. If this sounds familiar, you can save money by canceling your membership and getting exercise a different way. Although, this doesn’t just apply to the gym. Do you have cable, but never have time to watch television? Consider getting rid of cable and rely on a cheaper alternative (Netflix, Hulu, etc.) or do away with it altogether. While these are just two examples, think about all areas where you’re paying for a service that you’re not actively using.

Commit to No-Spend Days
We often spend money without even realizing how much we are spending. By curbing this habit and being focused on what you’re spending your money on, you may be able to start putting that money towards your long-term goals. Challenge yourself to commit to one or two no-spend days per week. If you’re a daily coffee drinker, instead of running out to your nearest coffee shop for a pick-me-up, consider bringing your coffee from home. If you go out to lunch a few times per week, start treating yourself just once per week instead. Even little changes will add up to more savings over time.

Pay Off Your Debt Quicker
If you have debt, consider making it your mission to start paying it off a little faster. That doesn’t mean you have to go crazy and put every penny towards your debt, but it does mean boosting that amount just a little bit to get through the debt faster. This could mean simply adding an extra $50 a month towards your debt. Whatever extra you can contribute gets you that much closer to being debt-free. After a few months of consistent payments, you will be adjusted to spending that extra money each month and will likely not feel the impact of that extra contribution.  Pay off your debt on the go through mobile banking with Sikorsky Credit Union’s Mobile App, which allows you pay bills and credit cards, transfer money, and more all from your smartphone or Kindle.

Download a Budgeting App
The adage “what gets measured, gets managed” couldn’t be truer when it comes to tracking your spending habits while trying to stick to a budget. If you’re not someone that has previously set a budget, downloading a budgeting app could be a great tool to start. There are many options available that can help you set a budget for all of the categories that are relevant to your life, including one that is available on Sikorsky Credit Union’s online banking portal.

Keep track of how much and where you currently spend your money each month. Notice that you’re spending a lot more on going out to eat than you thought you were? Adjust your habits to keep within a new budget and use that extra money you were using on food and put it towards debt or savings.

Open a Savings Account
A common problem that Americans face is the inability to save money. This could be because many people have one savings account that they use to save for a new car, vacation, down payment on a house, home improvements, and emergencies. Having these all in one account can make you lose focus on how much you have set aside for each event you want to save for. For instance, if you have a timeline for when you want to go on vacation or get a new car, it may be difficult to see how much you have set aside. Instead, open several savings accounts and label them accordingly. Additionally, setting up an automatic withdrawal of a small amount out of your paycheck to go into each savings account is a surefire way to continue to save. 

With the new year upon us, checking in with yourself and reviewing your finances is a great step to take to ensure you’re on target with your savings goals. A simple check can help you realize where you stand with debt or help you focus on what you might want to start saving for this year.