Happy New Year! I hope you had an amazing holiday celebration with your family and friends. I know we did. My favorite part of the new year is that it allows for a fresh start. Of course, we can’t put the past away entirely – if you overspent your budget last year, that will probably follow you into this year as well, right? But we CAN determine that now it is the time to make changes and to accomplish the things that really matter to us in the long-term, especially when it comes to managing your finances in 2024.
To help us do just that, I’ve created a series of challenges for 2024 – one per month. Each challenge will help you move a little closer to your personal and financial goals, without feeling overwhelmed in doing so. These challenges should be FUN, but like the word says, they are a challenge. But, if you complete them you’ll find your budget AND your personal life will be in better shape than it was when you started.
At least that’s my hope.
January Challenge: A Fresh Start for Your Finances in 2024
Today’s challenge is no different and it’s a bit like a “choose your own adventure” challenge. If you don’t already have a budget in place, you’ll want to choose Option #1, and if you do have a working budget in place, you’ll go with Option #2.
Both options are geared toward helping you lay the foundation for an amazing 2024. You want that, right?
Option #1: Put a Budget into Place
Sometimes we put off creating a budget because we don’t actually want to come to terms with the reality of our financial situation. But you are here and you have financial goals for 2024, then it’s time to face reality. You know things aren’t working the way you want them to and with a budget in place, you can make the necessary changes.
How Do You Create a Budget?
Creating a budget doesn’t have to feel overwhelming. In fact, I’ve created several step-by-step resources to help you do just that:
What Do I Do Next?
Once you have that shiny new budget in place, it’s time to use it. Track all of your expenses for the upcoming month. Remember, great things don’t happen overnight. It will take time for your budget to work for you. You’ll spend time over these next few weeks and months making changes as you learn what’s working and what’s not. Don’t stress about it. Just follow the budget and give yourself grace when things don’t work perfectly.
And…if you want insight into how I manage my personal budget, meal plan, and grocery lists, check out the Lemon Blessings Membership. You’ll receive access to over 50+ printable resources as well as the exact meal plans and grocery lists that I’m using to keep my own budget. Find it HERE.
Option #2: Refresh and Renew Your Financial Life
If you’ve had a budget in place for a little while, then you are ready to move into the refresh and renew stage of managing your financial life. These are things that can be done at any point during the year, but it’s definitely applicable when we are looking for a fresh start.
Step 1: Look for Roadblocks to Success
Take the time to print all of your bank statements from 2023 including checking, savings, credit cards, loans, etc. If you prefer not to waste paper actually printing them, you can add them to a spreadsheet.
Then, go through and look at each month looking for anything out of the ordinary. If you notice that in March you ate out a lot – maybe you can expect the same when March Madness starts again? Or, maybe in July you spent extra on childcare. Consider whether your kids also need some extra childcare this year. Look for anything that doesn’t routinely fit into your monthly budgeting plan and note those things under the respective months.
Once you’ve done so, consider whether these are expenses you should begin saving for now OR if they are expenses you can incur in the month they will happen. Adjust your budget appropriately.
Step 2: Choose ONE to TWO Financial Focuses for 2024.
These could include:
By looking at your own budget you can probably determine which ones rank highest for you, but if you aren’t sure where to start I’d recommend considering debt payoff and emergency savings if those haven’t been priorities in the past.
Of course, you could choose several areas to focus on, but my preference is to start with just one or two so that you don’t feel overwhelmed by trying to do “all the things”. After all, you probably have other things you’re working on as well, right? Like getting back in shape or spending more time with family. So, let your budget do the work for you, but don’t let it become overwhelming.
Step 3: Determine How You Will Meet Your Financial Goals
When you’ve chosen your focus areas, take a few minutes to decide how you will meet those goals or achieve the outcome you want to see in those categories. Will you automatically move money to savings each month? Will you cut subscription costs or focus on keeping the grocery budget down? How will you make the change you want to see?
Step 4: Put the Plan into Action
Now comes the hard part – putting the plan into action. Implement the changes to your budget for the upcoming month. Wherever you decided to focus, that’s your priority this year until you meet the outcome desired.
That means that if you want to have $1000 in your emergency fund, but you can only budget $100 each month for that purpose, then you will focus on doing just that until October of this year. You may have to make sacrifices along the way to make it happen, but if you put your mind to it and make your best effort, you WILL see amazing results.
And…no matter what focus you choose, the Lemon Blessings Membership can help. This monthly membership offers access to 50+ printables to help you on your financial journey, as well as an inside look into the budgeting process I personally use, the exact menu plans I’ve created for my family, our favorite low-cost recipes, and even some helpful grocery lists to get you started. Don’t miss a thing. Join HERE.
Embrace a Fresh Start for Your Finances in 2024
As you begin 2024 and embrace a fresh start – both for your finances and in many other areas of your life, just remember that it’s not about perfection. But every little step in the right direction makes a huge difference long-term. So…don’t give up!
I can’t wait to hear about all of the success you will have this year.
I’m cheering you on!