How to Learn From a Year’s Worth of Financial Successes and Setbacks

By doing a personal year in review to see what worked for you money-wise, you can pinpoint what were your major wins and fails, and how you can improve for the year ahead.
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As the end of the year can provide a welcome respite from the usual hustle, it’s an optimal period to carve out some “me time” for quiet, personal reflection. While figuring out what your major successes and setbacks are in other areas of your life – such as with your job or creative endeavors – might float to the surface more easily, financial matters may require a bit more digging.

Here’s how to learn from a year’s worth of financial successes and setbacks.

Define pain points

Figuring out what your greatest financial struggles were can help you get better. While it may not be the most pleasant thing to do, defining your pain points will help you prevent them from happening again. Just don’t be too hard on yourself. You’re only human, after all.

For instance, which savings goals did you hit? And where did you fall short? Try to figure out the “why.” When it came to budgeting, were you victim to a budgeting pitfall? Maybe you were dinged by the unexpected, such as your workplace scaling back on hours, or your car suffering a mechanical failure. Or it could just be that you lost motivation midway, especially when you were flush with cash.

Were there times when you experienced work stress and resorted to retail therapy? Or did a friend’s visit—and the brewery tours and local sightseeing—set you back? To help you remember, you can use Simple’s Reports to figure out the “when” and “where” of your experience with these pain points.

Next, figure out what you can do to prevent these things from happening again. For instance, come up with a list of alternatives for when you encounter times of stress in your life. Perhaps a local hike or seeking refuge by working on your bicycle could do the trick—without putting a dent in your pocket.

Create a buffer fund

If not having a sufficient emergency fund was one of your money fails, resolve to turn that around by first setting up a buffer fund. Essentially a mini-emergency fund, a buffer fund can cover anywhere from a few weeks’ to a couple of months’ living expenses. Consider it a stepping-stone toward building that ultimate e-fund. Once you set up a Goal and make this a front-of-mind priority, you’ll be able to slowly get into the habit of saving for the unexpected.

Figure out if you need to earn more money

If you’ve fallen short on your saving goals in the past year, it might be time to ramp up on your cash flow. First, figure out why you may have fallen short. Was it out of reckless spending, or a more fundamental reason, such as just not earning enough to get by during certain months? You can put to use info you glean from Reports in your Simple account to see what parts of the past year you were short on cash.

If you can find ways to cut back on your spending, you may not need to make more money. Otherwise, consider taking on a second job, a side hustle or two, or ask for that hard-earned raise.

Buddy up to stay accountable

Partner up with a friend who may be going through similar money struggles as you. You can keep each other in check by touching base on the regular, or do a meeting of the minds to iron out challenges you face with managing your money.

If there are goals you are both working toward, such as taking a trip together or co-founding a small business, you can sync up a savings Goal or keep each other in check with your Safe-to-Spend limits by using Simple Shared accounts.

By doing a personal check-in and a year in review, you’ll be able to make the most of the insights you gleaned from the year’s major financial wins and fails to chug along on your goals for the year ahead.

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