Five Ways to Give Yourself a Raise in the New Year

You're more likely to achieve your goals if you keep them simple, tangible — and believe you can do it, notes a financial expert

January’s all about fresh starts.

That’s why it’s so hard to find an open treadmill at the gym this time of year — and why everyone seems to be talking about the new diet they want to try in 2018. Everything is fresh and new in January.

But one area where a lot of people miss an opportunity for a fresh start is their personal finances. Year after year, many of us make the same old mistakes with our money — maxing out our credit cards, our car payments, our mortgage. Nothing changes.

So why not make 2018 the year to start winning with money? Here are several ways to give yourself a raise in the new year:

1.) Transition your traditional IRA to a Roth IRA. The traditional Individual Retirement Account works on the “save money now, pay later” system. In this system, you don’t pay taxes on the money you contribute now, but you will have to pay taxes when you take the money out.

A better alternative is the Roth IRA. In this retirement savings account, you pay taxes up front, but you don’t pay taxes when you withdraw in retirement. Transitioning to a Roth means your money grows tax-free, saving you thousands in the long run.

Related: The Secrets of Family Financial Fitness

2.) Reduce online monthly spending. Take a look at your online subscriptions. Is there anything you need to cancel? Avoid signing up for those online subscriptions that you don’t use or need.

A great way to do this is to unsubscribe from your emails. That way, there’s less temptation when you see a sale or special discounts. That extra $15 per month you pay for online barre classes that you use once every three months could be an extra something in your pocket.

3.) Create monthly financial resolutions. This may sound overwhelming, but quick wins are important!.Research shows that only 8 percent of people achieve their New Year’s goals. Write down 12 financial goals you’d like to achieve by the end of 2018 — and assign one to each month. Maybe you want to pay off a credit card in May or save $500 in November.

You’ll be more likely to beat the statistics and achieve those goals if you keep them simple, make them tangible, and believe that you can do it.

4.) Read one nonfiction book a month. Ever heard the saying “leaders are readers”? I’m not always the best about reading, but it’s something I’ve started making more time for as I’ve gotten older. Did you know the average millionaire reads at least one nonfiction book per month?

Come up with a list of things you’d need extra cash for — like holidays, birthdays, weddings, new tires, home repairs, and more, and make those your sinking funds.

Choose one book each month that will help you learn and grow (professionally, personally, spiritually, etc.). Set aside 30 minutes or more each day, grab a cup of coffee, and get to it. Need a recommendation to get started? Check out our Ramsey Book Club, where each month you’ll receive a book that allows you to invest in your personal development.

5.) Create sinking funds. Life happens. Come up with a list of things you’d need extra cash for — like holidays, birthdays, weddings, new tires, home repairs, and more, and make those your sinking funds. Decide how much you want to save and divide that out per month. If you’re looking for an easy-to-use, free budgeting app, I recommend Everydollar. This app will help you make a plan for your money.

If you’re serious about making a fresh start with your money, these tips will help set you up financially for 2018. This time next year, you could be in an entirely different situation. Make 2018 the year you start winning with your money.

Rachel Cruze is a New York Times best-selling author and seasoned communicator who helps Americans learn the proper ways to handle money and stay out of debt. Her best-selling books include “Love Your Life, Not Theirs” and “Smart Money Smart Kids,” which she co-wrote with her father, Dave Ramsey. Follow Cruze on Twitter and Instagram at @RachelCruze and at