BY KARA I. STEVENS
One of the obstacles that many of us still face is reining in our spending and paying ourselves first. Get a head start on your 2016 financial goals by being proactive about what you do with your money for the remainder of 2015. You still have time to do all of the following:
Automate your Payments
One of my friends just told me that whenever she has extra cash lying around, she ends up spending it on silly, insignificant things. As a single mother of two, that money could be used for so many things. I recommended she increase her retirement allocation by having the money automatically withdrawn from her check every month.
If you want to ensure that money is mindfully used toward savings or eliminating debt, take the human factor out of it and set up automatic payments to yourself before the money runs through your fingers like water.
Get a Financial Advisor
Everyone is not going to be a money guru, but everyone will still be responsible for taking care of themselves in the present and in the future. One of the beauties about enlisting the support of a financial advisor or planner is that you have options. Some financial advisors charge a flat fee for their advisement, while others are paid a portion of your complete portfolio. Call up your bank and inquire about their financial advisory services and see referrals from financially "with it" friends about how they manage their investment portfolios.
Create Super Small, Specific Savings Goals.
Saving has become like a hobby to me. Some people like collecting art, but I like collecting money. But not everyone can save for savings sake. They need a concrete reason. That is why it is important to create SMART (specific, measurable, accurate, realistic, and time-bound) goals and be clear about what you are saving for or towards. Set a goal like, "In four months, I want to save $400 so that I can pay off the remaining balance on my Macy's charge card. So that means I have to save $100 per month. $25 a week. $5 a day. "This is more likely to get you where you want to go with your financial bottom line than a vague goal like, "I want to save a lot of money quickly."
Ditch all of your friends trying to keep up with the Joneses and the Kardashians because they are making you broke.
The Social Mirror Theory states that people are not capable of anchoring their self-concept and self-perception without taking into account others' viewpoints. In other words, we care about what others think of us and how others perceive us. Even though this theory speaks to general social interactions, we know this is applicable to how we spend money. If your friends are spending like it is en vogue, you are more likely to pull out your wallet if you are not strong enough to stand your ground.
If you know that you are susceptible to following the crowd, then change the crowd: Surround yourself with friends that are about their money so you can do the same. You will be proud of yourself for being courageous and your nest egg will grow as a result.