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    I Asked Finance Experts For 10 Money Resolutions To Consider For 2022

    Even if you don't reach your goal, forming a new habit can still be a win.

    Creating a resolution to level up your money game is easy-ish, but sticking to it is the hard part.

    I’ve personally had difficulty finding the right set of financial resolutions that I can commit to. So instead of making empty promises to myself this year, I decided to do something different and reach out to some personal finance experts to help me start 2022 on the right foot.

    Why are New Year's resolutions surrounding money so difficult to stick to?

    From left to right: Jannese Torres-Rodriguez, Douglas A. Boneparth, and Erin Lowry

    Getting the chance to speak to Jannese Torres-Rodriguez (host of the Yo Quiero Dinero podcast), Douglas A. Boneparth (creator of www.bonefidewealth.com), and Erin Lowry (author of the three-part Broke Millennial series) really helped me put 2022 into perspective.

    All three agreed that it's key for any resolution you set for next year to be realistic. “NY resolutions are so hard to stick to because people try to make extreme changes with no flexibility and no time to adapt. It's like trying to become a millionaire in a day,” says Jannese. Money goals are difficult to stick to because a lot of what it takes to succeed relies heavily on changing your habits. Douglas also commented by saying, “It’s not something that happens overnight.”

    Another important point that Erin Lowry brings up is that failure is actually OK! “If you set something too lofty that isn’t actionable, then it’s easy to fail. If you don’t give yourself the grace to recalibrate after a slip-up, then it’s easy to fail.” If you fail at achieving a certain goal, but end up creating better habits, then that can still be a win.

    So with that in mind, here are 10 money resolutions that you don't have to wait until 2022 to start on:

    Note: Personal finance is, well, very personal, so some of these ideas might not be applicable for your situation. Take what works for you and leave the rest.

    1. Start saving money in an emergency fund for unexpected bills.

    Couple going over their finances together
    Fotostorm / Getty Images

    Creating an emergency fund can set you up for success for any other money resolutions you might have. Jannese recommends creating an emergency fund first due to what we’ve all experienced during the pandemic. Nothing is set in stone, and having money stashed away can help when unexpected events bring surprise bills your way. “Emergencies create even more debt if we're not prepared for them,” Jannese says.

    Erin Lowry mentions, “It’s often wise to put more energy (and money) toward building a modest emergency fund first than aggressively paying off debt. Without an emergency fund, it’s easy to sink deeper and deeper into debt because if (and when) something comes up, it would have to be financed on a credit card or borrowed another way. That could wipe away all the progress you’ve made toward debt freedom. ”

    A great way to start is by saving 5%–10% of your monthly income (or whatever you can afford) and only using that money when there is a serious emergency.

    2. Get rid of high-interest debt (and, if possible, all of your other debt too).

    Rooster Teeth / Via giphy.com

    “If we’re talking toxic credit card debt, that’s got to go because you’re literally moving backward financially,” is what Douglas thinks about when it comes to debt. The reason why you want to tackle toxic (specifically high-interest debt) as a money goal next year is because it can get in the way of wealth creation. 

    Credit card interest rates tend to be higher than the rate of return you’d get from most investments. That’s why it is critical to get rid of debt as soon as possible. Two popular approaches you might want to look into are the Debt Snowball and the Debt Avalanche methods. 

    3. Increase your retirement contributions, even just a little bit.

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    When speaking to the experts, preparing for retirement is something they strongly recommend we consider. Erin commented, “This isn’t a hard or difficult goal, but it’s easy to avoid, so it may feel difficult at the time. It’s critical that you ensure the money you’re investing for your future is actually invested and not just sitting in cash.”

    If your employer doesn’t provide a 401(k) plan, you can always open up a Traditional or Roth IRA. And Erin cautions that if you do have a 401(k) plan, ask your HR team or plan providers if your funds are auto-invested (because sometimes they are not).

    The goal here is to get as close as you can to maximizing your allowed contributions for either account (401(k) or IRA). I personally have committed myself to contribute $250 a month in my retirement account, or if I’m having a bad month I put in a minimum of $100.

    4. Start a side hustle if you're interested in having multiple streams of income.

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    Now Jannese mentioned a money goal that I personally resonate with because I’ve been trying to do this since 2019. Even if it is just a second part-time job, freelance work you do on the weekend, or money from making YouTube videos —a side hustle can help you accelerate your progress with other money resolutions.

    She mentions, “Most people could benefit from a side hustle that brings in extra income. This money can help you pay your debt faster, save or invest more, or even become a full-time business. Identify three to five personal and professional skills that you could turn into a side hustle.”

    The main word of advice here is to not try to do a new project by quitting your job. Start slow and work when you have open time in your weekly schedule, and then build from there.

    5. Or if you're in a position to do so, ask for a raise.

    Man in a meeting with his boss
    Sdi Productions / Getty Images

    Douglas also believes in getting a raise at your job. Although this is a science in itself, the answer is automatically no if you don’t ask. 

    Douglas says, “Know your worth. Take time to understand what your time and talent are worth in case you need to approach your employer and ask for a raise. Speaking with recruiters and understanding your employment market can teach you a lot.” Not sure where to start? You might like these negotiation tips that people say helped them ask for a raise and get it.

    6. Read a personal finance book to learn more about money.

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    And Erin has another recommended money goal! This is something that all of us can do literally right now — read one book about personal finance. And what’s great is, “You don’t even have to spend money to do this. Just check out your local library.” 

    Often times the hardest part about getting started with saving, tackling debt, or investing is lack of education. What’s great is that smart experts in the personal finance space have written countless books on these subjects, and you can get them at a low cost (or even for free as Erin mentions).

    Or if books aren't your thing, download a finance podcast or check out one of these money documentaries.

    7. Look into cryptocurrencies.

    Ersinkisacik / Getty Images/iStockphoto

    Cryptocurrencies have picked up steam over the past three years, with more news coverage and retail investors entering the scene. Although none of the experts I interviewed mentioned anything about crypto, I believe it is a budding asset class that you should at least be aware of. You might start experimenting by opening up a digital wallet and playing around with small amounts of cash to get a feel for it. 

    The crypto community is also very active on Twitter, and most experts have a ton of resources you can learn from on the platform. Just make sure that as you are doing your research, you avoid any scams that may come your way.

    8. Set actionable savings goals, and create a budget you can stick to.

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    What’s the key to saving money? Erin says it's having a specific time period and a specific amount you want to achieve. “There’s a big difference between 'I want to save $1,000' and 'I want to save $1,500 in six months.' The former isn’t actionable. The latter gives you a timeline, which means you know you need to save $250 a month to achieve the goal.”

    9. If your finances are stable, create a goal for giving.

    Person donating a box of goods to their community
    Newsday Llc / Newsday via Getty Images

    If you’re already in a good place financially and/or you want to get the whole family involved in a money goal, consider setting some cash aside to give back to your community. Donating your money is a great way to teach kids the value of a dollar by showing them its impact on those less fortunate than they are. 

    Additionally, money experts like Tony Robbins mention that giving away money is one the best ways to experience joy. Instilling that kind of philosophy in kids at a young age definitely has only upsides.

    10. Finally, consider investing in real estate.

    Woman touring a home with a real estate agent
    Christinne Muschi / Reuters

    One last comment that stood out to me is one that Douglas mentioned, “Master your cash flow. Nothing gives you greater control over your financial life than knowing exactly where your money is going. It’s more than budgeting. It’s understanding where your money actually went and your behavior.”

    And what better way to master your cash flow than to get involved in an asset class that revolves around specifically that? I’m talking about real estate investing.

    Now you can take two approaches to this. You can try buying foreclosed multi-family homes and then refurbish them, get tenants, and just maintain the property. Or you can go about researching Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) and investing in those to expand your portfolio. Either way, real estate is an asset class that isn’t going away, and getting your hands dirty and learning about this side of investing is definitely something to consider.

    And here’s a bonus: I asked each financial expert about financial resolutions they’ve completed in the past!

    Golden Globes / Via Giphy / giphy.com

    It was cool to see that each expert had their own goals that they successfully completed (and some unique perspectives on their own resolutions too). Douglas actually doesn’t like New Year’s resolutions because he wants to continuously improve his financial picture. “Self-improvement is ongoing and continual throughout the year.”

    Whereas Erin successfully maxed out her retirement fund for the past two years — ensuring she stays ahead of the game for her financial future. And Jannese’s biggest goal was to quit her job and go full time on her business this year — which she did! 

    Now it's your turn: What are some financial resolutions you’re setting for yourself in 2022? Share your goals, and cheer each other on in the comments.