Organize, Assess, & Plan to Achieve Financially in 2008

Now that you have made it through yet another holiday season, it is time to get serious and think about what you want to accomplish financially in 2008. Whether it is to pay down debt acquired during Christmas or save a down payment to purchase a new car or home, reassessing where you are and developing a budget is the key to accomplishing your goal. Here are just a few ways to ensure that it happens.


One of the first steps to accomplishing any goal is organization. I believe organization in the world of finances and accomplishing goals is twofold: Organization mentally – setting your mind towards your goal and organization physically – laying out your bills and expenses and setting up a budget.

Assess and Plan

After organizing, assess your situation to determine how you can achieve your goal. Perhaps you have enough disposal income left each month to meet your goal instantly. For most people though, I’m sure it’ll take a couple of months or years depending on your goal.

If you aren’t fortunate enough to have enough money at one time to accomplish your goal, here is something you could do. Consider cutting back on your household expenses, something that you can easily control. Trim your grocery expenses by buying in bulk and only purchasing loss leaders – those items advertised on the front and back page of weekly grocery store ads. Additionally, cut back on entertainment by staying home and renting movies. Red Box offers rentals of new releases for only $1.00 per night through vending machines in groceries stories and discount stores such as Wal-mart. Look for the machines near the checkout lanes and entrances of these stores or check their web site for a list of convenient locations.

If your goal is to pay off a credit card or other debt, pay frequently. I’d say as soon as you’ve saved at least $20 send it in against your balance. I know it might not seem like much, but if you aren’t mentally strong and easily spend, it is better to get it out of your hand as quickly as possible. Take advantage of bill pay through electronic banking and eliminate the time and expenses of mailing payments. If the idea of sending small frequent payments, doesn’t appeal to you, consider submitting additional payments in accordance with your pay periods. The underlying idea is to determine a way to save and set up a realistic plan to do so.

If you are saving for a big ticket purchase such as a car, consider depositing your money into a certificate of deposit (CD) or a money market account. Many banks are offering CDs with terms as low as 11 months with an annual percentage rate over 5%. Additionally, rates on money market accounts are running at similar levels. Be careful with a CD though, you could pay a penalty if your money is withdrawn before the maturity date.

Lastly, while you watch your savings grow, go a step further by checking your credit report. is excellent. Look for reporting errors and notify the major credit bureaus immediately. Then once you’ve reached your goal, you can get a good interest rate for that new car or new home.

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Michelle Sharrow

Michelle P. Sharrow, MBA author and editor of Family Finance, is based in Waldorf, Maryland, she holds a Masters Degree with a concentration in Finance. Michelle provides a monthly column on ways to help families maintain their finances and stick to a budget titled, Budgeting and Savings for Families.
Michelle Sharrow SharrowFamily FinanceOrganize, Assess, & Plan to Achieve Financially in 2008 By Michelle P. Sharrow, MBA Now that you have made it through yet another holiday season, it is time to get serious and think about what you want to accomplish financially in 2008. ...Parenting Advice| Family Fun Activities for Kids