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Finding Financial Balance

Financial New Year's resolutions


With the start of the new year, many people set some goals or resolutions for the year. When it comes to New Year’s resolutions, do you think about your financial goals? With the recent increase in the cost of living, it may be time to consider your financial well-being for the year. Setting financial goals is a starting point for planning your financial future. Think about the last year and decide if your financial choices were in line with your personal values and priorities or if you need to make some changes to work towards your goals. Learn more about financial goal setting from my first blog post. Some goals to consider for the year may be managing any outstanding debts, creating or adjusting your saving goals, or creating a spending plan to follow for the year that fits your values and lifestyle.

Debt management

Do you have some debts carrying over from last year that you need to focus on paying? For those with student loans, the payments have likely resumed and need to be accounted for in your spending plan for the year. If you have multiple outstanding debts, you may want to use a debt-calculating tool to decide what repayment strategy will work best for you. Utah State University Extension provides a free debt organization tool to help you decide the best way to pay down your debt. Are you planning on any large purchases or expenses in the coming year that may require borrowing money? Before committing, compare interest rates and terms available. This may also be a good time to work towards improving your credit score. Some tips from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau are to pay your loans on time, try to keep credit balances low and avoid maxing out, create a history of good credit over time, only apply for credit you need, and check your credit report for accuracy.

Saving goals

With the increasing prices, many have resorted to using their savings to cover the inflationary costs. Have you been using your savings to cover the increased cost of your expenses last year? Focusing on replenishing your savings or starting a savings account may benefit your overall financial wellness this year. If you have a hard time setting money aside, consider an automatic deduction that goes directly to a savings account. Having emergency savings on hand may prevent the need to utilize your credit to borrow in the case of an unexpected expense. Some budget categories may need to be changed to show the current costs that may have risen over the last year.

Occasional expenses

Over the last year, did you have any surprises or unexpected expenses throughout the year? If you did, will you be planning for these expenses in the next year? Be sure to include any seasonal or occasional expenses in your spending plan, so you are prepared. Plan ahead for birthdays and holidays where you purchase gifts. Think about setting aside money for expenses that only occur once or twice a year, like property taxes. Try to budget for all expenses throughout the year, so that you are prepared when the bills or expenses are due to be paid.

Take some time to reflect on what you learned about your finances over the last year. If you see positive ways to change how you earn, spend, or save your money, start making a plan for the year. Take a mindful approach to your finances and start setting some goals. Stay focused on improving your financial wellness throughout the year.


How do I get and keep a good credit score?. (2020, September 1). Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. 

Mahlandt, J. (2023, April 12). Let’s find your financial balance. Finding Financial Balance - University of Illinois Extension.

Utah State University Extension. (2023). PowerPay: Debt reduction tool. Utah State University.

Meet the Author


Jamie Mahlandt is a Financial Educator for Bond, Clinton, Jefferson, Marion, and Washington counties in Southern Illinois. She provides financial education to the local community with an emphasis on financial literacy and financial well-being.