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304 North Cardinal St.
Dorchester Center, MA 02124
The 2010s are nearly over, and it marks a moment to breathe, think about the decade that passed and consider the decade ahead.
Think back to where you were a decade ago. Are you where you hoped you’d be in 2020? Did you make some missteps along the way?
Now is the perfect time to start thinking ahead about the decade to come, so this can be your best decade ever. Here are 20 ways to make this coming decade your best decade ever.
What do you want your life to look like on Dec. 31, 2029? Give that vision detail. What will you be doing? Where will you be working? How financially stable and strong will you be? The more details, the better, as that makes the vision more realistic and powerful.
What do you need to do financially to make that vision happen? Do you need to cut spending? Get real about saving for some big goals? Bump up your income? Decide on a key goal or two for the next decade that will help you achieve that that vision. Write the goal down on paper and put it in a place where you’ll see it a lot.
You have a big goal. What is the first immediate step in terms of making that goal happen? What can you do today to take the first step toward that goal? Take that step, then think about tomorrow’s step, too. The most important part of any goal is what you’re doing today to make it happen.
Credit card interest is devastating to your finances, so if you’re carrying a balance, make it a big goal to pay it off, then aim to no longer carry a balance. You can still use your credit cards, but make sure that you can always pay off the balance in full and never use them to buy things you can’t afford.
You have a lot of life expenses that don’t matter to you, so start focusing on minimizing them. Buy your household supplies in store-brand form. Minimize your energy use by weatherstripping your doors and putting caulk around windows. Think of how to minimize those pesky expenses.
Most people have activities and items they enjoy, but you can often cut the cost of those pleasures significantly without losing what you love about them. Learn how to make great coffee at home, so you’re not spending $7 at the coffee shop each morning. Start grabbing books you love from the library instead of on the Kindle or at the bookstore. Spend more time doing your hobbies instead of buying supplies.
Food expenses can kill your financial dreams. Eating food you make at home is far less expensive than dining out. Start making as many meals at home as you can, even if it’s uncomfortable. It’s a skill you’ll build over time, and home food preparation will eventually feel easy.
You don’t need to call a plumber because your toilet is clogged. Watch some YouTube videos and figure out how to do it yourself. Most minor home, appliance and car repairs are tasks you can master, saving you a ton and building your confidence.
While car maintenance is a regular ongoing cost, over the long run, it extends the life of your vehicle so much that it becomes an enormous money-saver. Start keeping and following a regular maintenance schedule for your car, matching what’s in the owner’s manual. Get it serviced at the mileage numbers in your car’s manual at an auto shop you trust.
If you’re not saving for retirement, start doing so now. If you have a workplace retirement plan, sign up and contribute a healthy amount. If you don’t have one available, sign up for a Roth IRA (or a traditional IRA if you don’t qualify for a Roth) and set up an appropriate automatic contribution. In 10 years, when you have a healthy growing nest egg, you’ll be incredibly glad you did this.
Save more. Push yourself. Bump up that contribution amount by a few percentage points. You’ll be glad you did as you watch that retirement grow throughout the decade.
Improving your income is an incredibly powerful step for improving your financial state. For many workers, that involves preparing themselves to take a career leap forward. One effective way to do this is to take on challenging professional projects. Don’t stay in your comfort zone. Instead, take on tasks that build resume-worthy skills and provide income-boosting results.
Many careers have advancement that revolves around education, but getting that education can be challenging if you’re working full-time. The workers who return to school can really stand out from the pack, so make it your priority to get that education if it’s needed for the next step in your career.
As you advance in your career, many opportunities are opened, not just by your resume, but by the people you know. Make a concerted effort to get to know people in your field by participating in professional social media, local groups related to your career, conferences and conventions associated with your field. If these networking opportunities don’t exist, start them.
If you have a large regular bill in your life, shop around for ways to reduce it. Shop around for insurance, mortgage refinancing, internet providers and cellular providers. Almost every company offers good rates for new customers, so take advantage of that and comparison shop.
Do you need your Netflix subscription when you have Amazon Prime and an over-the-air antenna? Do you need your gym membership when you rarely use it and get more exercise outside? If you have a service that isn’t giving you much value and that you only use once in a while, cancel it now. You won’t miss it. And if you do, just sign up again.
Get into a pattern of predicting upcoming bills and saving for them now, so they’re not big problems when they come due. You know insurance is coming and you know how much it will be, so put a portion of it aside now, another portion next month and so on. Do this with expenses such as property taxes. This will prevent you from making difficult spending choices or building up credit card balances.
You will have to replace your car eventually. So, just like any other irregular bill, start saving for it. Put aside $100 or $200 a month for your next car, or even better, when you pay off your current car, start putting that payment amount in a savings account each month. Then, when you go to buy your next car, you can pay cash for it and avoid loan interest.
Your health will end up being one of your biggest long-term expenses, and health issues will hamper your quality of life. Start taking care of yourself now. Eat a healthy diet. Aim to avoid being significantly overweight or obese. Get some daily exercise, anything that you enjoy that gets you breathing heavy. Get plenty of sleep each night.
Make a regular health checkup a part of your life. It is far less expensive to find a medical issue before it grows into a real crisis that’s life-altering and incredibly expensive.
The bottom line: Rather than feeling overwhelmed by all of the tasks listed here, choose several that make sense and lean into them. They should lead to a sense of personal empowerment and success. If they’re making you feel miserable, find different avenues for success. Not everyone is wired the same, so spend the time to figure out what works for you.