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How to Turn Your Financial Fails into Massive Wins for the New Year

By Jackie Lam
January 3, 2017

As you look back on this past year, you might think about some money mistakes that resulted in serious facepalm moments: Yea, I totally shouldn’t have gone cat lady crazy and adopted those six cats at the same time. Or: Buying a timeshare is like owning your own vacation rental, right?

Fortunately, one of best way avoid making mistakes is to learn from the mistakes of others. So to help you avoid becoming a repeat offender in 2017, we asked a few of our favorite personal finance bloggers what were some of their top financial fails, and how they can plan to turn them into mega wins during the year ahead:

Falling behind on bills

You’re well aware that a big part of adulting is staying on top of your bills. And when you’re late on payments such as your student loans or credit card bill, you’re subject to the Gods of Credit dinging your credit card score. But when you neglect to make payments on time, it may not be a matter of having enough money in the bank. You might’ve just been crazy busy and forgot to send payment. 

The plan for 2017: 

Automate everything. 34-year-old Kelby Green of The Frugalennial plans to put more of his finances on autopilot to make sure he doesn’t miss a payment. “While it’s important to take an approach in paying down debt and saving for the future, automation helps make sure bills are paid on time and you’re on track with your saving goals.” 

Clicking “Buy Now” way too much 

When it comes to shopping on the Internet, you may act like a kid with access to a limitless credit card. And with essentially everything you’d ever want in the universe at your fingertips, it’s easy to buckle to temptation. For 33-year-old Kristin Wong of The Wild Wong, she went a little overboard this year with online purchases. “I don’t even remember what I bought,” she laughs. 

The plan for 2017: 

Curb the spending. Wong suggests going back to shopping at brick-and-mortar stores. “Amazon is my go-to place for household essentials, from cat food to toilet paper,” she explains. “The problem with that is, you buy a bunch other junk you don’t need along with those essentials. For 2017, I’m going to try to stay off of Amazon and start buying my household goods in a grocery store. Like a normal person.” 

Not saving enough for major life events

While making major life transitions—such as getting married, having a kid, or moving to another city—is definitely exciting, not having enough funds in place can add a load of stress. For 34-year-old Sarah Li Cain of High Fiving Dollars, she went $1,000 over budget this year when moving back to the States from China. 

The plan for 2017: 

Breaking things down to bite-size. When saving up for a major short-term goal, it helps to take into account all the costs involved. For instance, when moving to new stomping grounds, you’ll want to factor in not only how much it will cost to pack all your belongs in a pod, travel costs, but also money you won’t be earning during the move. Li Cain suggests getting as specific as possible, and break things down in smaller steps. “Not only can you set mini-milestones along the way, but to make it more attainable, break it down into as little actions as possible,” she explains.

Being penny rich, pound foolish

The most valuable resource you have is your time. You only have so much of it, and you can’t trade dollars for more of it. That being said, you’ll want to gauge if going through the pains of saving some dough is going to be worth the trouble. For 26-year-old William Lipovsky of First Quarter Finance, he learned the hard way that spending hours price shopping just to save a few dollars didn’t pay off. For instance, he spent more than 10 hours with phone support team of a discount cell phone provider, only to switch back to a major carrier. “I definitely value my time more now,” says Lipovsky. 

The plan for 2017: 

Pick your battles. It’s not just about the dollars you save, but the value you get. For instance, if you are going to go to the pains of salvaging your dated laptop, only for it to putt out every few months, and be a major buzzkill to your productivity? Don’t be ridiculous. The time and money you put into repairing it will far outweigh the price of buying a new laptop.

As we look forward in 2017, be sure to take the year to reflect on how you could’ve been better with your money. Doing so will allow you to course correct and set yourself up for massive success in the new year. Taking the steps now to make changes will help you create solid healthy financial habits that will pay off for years to come.

Onward and upward!

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