The smartest financial New Year resolution? Know exactly where your earnings go ...
Money worries know no age limit, and financial health is important for everyone, which could explain why financial pledges are among the most common New Year resolutions. Still, Millennials are a bit more likely than any other age group to be tempted into spending too much.
Forty-one per cent of Millennials say they are often or sometimes tempted to spend more than they have or can afford, according to research by the Barna Group. Interestingly, 66 per cent also said they are tempted to procrastinate, which could add up to plenty of broken resolutions for Generation Y in 2015.
If you've promised yourself you'll do better at managing money this year, here are the six smartest moves you can make to keep that resolution going until 2016 -- and beyond.
1. Use what you know (technology) to help you manage what you want to understand (finances) better Millennials are the generation most comfortable with technology.
The majority own and use multiple digital devices for personal and professional applications in their everyday lives. But, surprisingly, they are also the generation most likely to struggle with financial literacy, studies show.
In a survey by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), just 24 per cent of Millennials were able to correctly answer four of a five-question financial literacy quiz.
Technology can help you get a better handle on your finances. Personal finance tools can provide easy money management.
Free downloadable apps allow you to access easily your information on-the-go via your iPhone, Android, or Windows smartphone.
2. Scrutinise your current spending
It's impossible to save money -- or achieve any other financial goal -- until you have a handle on your spending. Was yours out of control in 2014?
Gather all recurring monthly bills, such as utilities and rent, your mobile service provider, groceries, entertainment, etc. Calculate how much you spend in a month. Is it almost as much as you earn? Is it more? Look for areas where you can reduce spending and categorise them as needs versus wants.
Cutting unnecessary spending is a good start, but don't overlook possibilities for also trimming necessary expenses.
3. Build a budget
Budgeting helps you stay in control of your spending and saving. It also can make you feel more in control, confident and empowered in other areas.
Your budget should cover necessary recurring expenses (food, utilities, rent, transport), retirement and regular savings, plus some money for fun. You'll find plenty of budget templates through online resources.
4. Establish an emergency fund
Rainy-day savings can help you pay for emergencies -- like an unexpected car repair or dental work -- without forcing you into debt. What's more, putting money into an emergency fund every pay day helps you form a savings habit, and can ease the emotional stress of worrying about financial emergencies.
5. Set financial goals
Look back at 2014 and assess which goals you achieved and which need to be refreshed for 2015. Consider what you did that helped you succeed in certain areas or where you might need to adjust. Evaluate where you most need to focus your attention. Don't overwhelm yourself by trying to do everything at once.
Instead, focus on one or two key financial goals.
6. Keep an eye on your credit
Credit is a vital element of overall financial health. Good credit will affect your ability to secure future credit -- such as credit cards or a mortgage, and even your ability to get a good job if you apply with an employer who requires a credit check.
Good financial habits can make a lifetime of impact, so this New Year, no matter who you are, make the promise to yourself to be good with your money.
Keeping these six money moves in mind, 2015 will be your best financial year yet.