As 2013 winds down, you’re probably sitting back and counting the ways it all went wrong for you and your meager finances.
If only you had been more disciplined with your money! If only you’d decided to have less fun!
If only you hadn’t traded your cow for magic beans that grew into a beanstalk that ruined your flooring and roof, creating a conduit to the home of an evil giant!
You have lived, learned and determined that stuff will be different in 2014. This is the year you will commit to being good with your money. You’ve got it all planned out, ‘You A Year From Now’ will be looking back with respect and admiration at ‘You Right Now’ for having embarked on the proper financial path. All it will take to make it happen is a New Year’s resolution or three.
Personal finance sites abound with resolution suggestions. Although most of these ideas have your long-term financial interest at heart, they’re unrealistic and soul-suckingly difficult, not to mention dull as a dishwasher.
So do yourself a favor and resolve not to make any of these resolutions this New Year, your energy is better spent binging on wings and beer, anyway.
Take your lunch to work instead of buy.
This is the quickest way to alienate colleagues you go to lunch with. You’ll be viewed as the fun-sucking social outcast who tries to be better than everyone else by becoming a lunch monk. While everyone else is swapping crucial office gossip that could let you get ahead, you’ll be stuck at your desk playing with your Ding Dong, as well as your banana, PB&J, and bottled water.
Instead, resolve to go out to lunch as often as possible…just make sure it’s with a boss or vendor who will be happy to pick up the check.
Open a Roth IRA.
Yes, setting up a Roth IRA is one of the most prudent ways to stockpile tax-free funds for your future. It’s also a way to leech resources away from your current, vital self so the future, barely-alive husk you will one day become can enjoy a few extra bucks in your savings account.
While it makes financial sense to use money you don’t really need to ensure you are well taken care of in your golden years, is it really that smart to sacrifice today in order to make sure you’re wealthy when you can no longer enjoy the money as much? And what’s your reward for a life of saving? Leaving an inheritance to ungrateful snots who will squander your hard-earned nest egg on, well, wings and beer?
Instead, spend for today. When you retire, you can just go in up to your dentures in debt with no plans to pay it back; after all, debt collectors can’t follow you to the grave.
Create a budget and stick to it.
Setting arbitrary spending limits on obligations helps you make sure there will be enough left over for savings and emergencies, but they lack practicality. If we’ve learned anything from the federal government, it’s that you’ll get what you need to get, when you need to get it, regardless of whether or not you actually have the money at the time.
So all a budget will be is a scolding nag that makes you feel bad about yourself when you go a little overboard in one category. Instead, compare your credit card statement each month to the ballooning national debt and pat yourself on the back for being so fiscally responsible in comparison.
Poor, expensive habits may be the expressway to financial ruin, but if you don’t address the source of your need to do destructive things, you’ll only be shifting the outlets you use to cope with them.
Are your twice-weekly bar binges more expensive than appointments with a shrink? Do your cigarettes cost more than going back to college to rectify your career failures?
Does the money you blow on blackjack and roulette every month surpass the expenses it will take to build a time machine so you can prevent yourself from making dumb bets? If the answer to any of these questions is “no,” you are best off resolving to indulge your habits more, in hopes you will tire of them and move on to something else.