When it comes to personal finance, you should always strive to be at the top of your game. A good way to think about personal finance is playing sports; when you have the drive and determination to win, it motivates you to perform at your best. Prior to that winning game, though, there was planning and practice that took place to make sure you succeeded. That same mindset is needed when working on your financial performance. You need the drive to win.

The holidays have always been a meaningful cause to spend money. It’s the “giving season” so spending money seems fitting, right? The problem often occurs when you don’t have a financial plan or budget in place, then you end up overspending and ultimately setting a rocky road for your next financial year. So, how do you pick yourself up and on the right track following the holiday financial frenzy? You need to have a plan.

Financial success doesn’t happen overnight, but these three takeaways can set you in the right direction for an affluent year.

Find Your Starting Point

The key to financial success is having a plan to follow, monitor and hold you accountable to the resolutions you made for yourself. It’s no surprise that 56 percent of American adults don’t have a budget in place and 77 percent of American adults are living paycheck to paycheck. It doesn’t have to be this way, though. With a plan and budget, your financial health will drastically improve.

Start by looking at your current finances including your credit line, savings, checking and outstanding debt. Set goals or resolutions for yourself. Whether weekly, monthly or quarterly, goals are best when they’re specific and measurable. For larger, more long-term resolutions, break them down into attainable milestones so you can track your progress along the way.

Know Where You’re Going

Knowing where you currently stand is crucial in determining where you want to go and how you’ll get there. As you work on the outline of your budget and yearly plan, think about what the upcoming year holds for you. Are you moving or traveling? Are you planning to make large purchases for a house or car? Are you paying down debt or loans? Ask yourself if you have enough money saved for the large purchases you wish to make or will they just add to your debt.

Determining what the year holds will help you build the proper budget, know how much you need to save and limit how much you can spend. Identify your financial strengths and weaknesses. Outline your needs versus your wants. More often than not, the bulk of what we spend our money on, we don’t actually need at that moment.

Be Patient & Stick to the Plan

Financial planning takes time and effort. While setting goals and budgets might be on the easier side, following through with them can be much more difficult. Stick to your resolutions by tracking your progress throughout the year. As you see the improvements and how they impact your current situation, you will be more motivated to continue moving forward.

Even with a financial plan in place, it’s important to remember that money can be unpredictable; it doesn’t always turn out the way you want or expect it to. That’s perfectly normal. Jobs are lost, investments fluctuate and fail, cars break down, bad things happen to good people. You can’t predict when emergencies happen, but you can be prepared. Be patient. Don’t let the temporary setbacks distract you from your long-term financial goals. Be resilient! Grow your savings, know your budget, stick to your plan and you will get to where you want to go.

The idea of getting your finances in order, though, can be an unsure and intimidating process. It’s perfectly normal to ask for help when making a plan. Financial conversations aren’t always the most exciting, but these conversations are critical to personal success. Take charge of your finances and make 2019 your best year yet!

The Financial Fitness Group, a purveyor of comprehensive online financial education programs, has the many resources you need to be a financial success. We offer unbiased online, interactive instruction in personal finance, financial planning, investing and much more. Learn more about our online resources or to schedule demo today.