2013 Finance To-Dos

Seven financial resolutions that will serve you well in 2013.

The new year presents an opportune time to review our life goals, as well as how our financial goals are supporting those life goals. For those with a few years behind them, they may ask, "Why make New Year’s resolutions when I always break them?" Even though we may fall short with resolutions, the process of examining our lives, recognizing our shortcomings and asking for the grace to do better is foundational to our Christian journey.

Here are seven financial resolutions that will serve you well in 2013:

First and foremost, remember that all you have ultimately comes from and belongs to the Lord (Deuteronomy 10:14). Be grateful for God’s provision.

Second, enthusiastically accept your role as a steward of Providence (Catechism, 2404). God has entrusted you with talents and resources and expects you to develop and use them in ways consistent with his will for your life. You’ll best fulfill this responsibility by deepening your relationship with Christ. Frequent reception of the Eucharist and attendance at Mass, daily prayer, reading of Scripture and other spiritual writing and regular confession deepen our union with the Lord and provide the grace needed to be more effective stewards of Providence.

Third, recognize that generosity is a key to unlocking the door to true financial freedom. Money has a way of turning us inward toward a selfish way of life. Living generously helps us keep our priorities straight and enhances our relationship with the Lord and those around us.

Fourth, commit to enhancing unity and communication regarding finances in your marriage. I recommend "family finance meetings," where husband and wife set aside time periodically to set goals for the future and monitor progress toward those goals.

Fifth, make effective use of "reserve funds" in your financial plan. Doing so will revolutionize your finances. Reserve funds are for items that require saving for longer than one year. Many people fail to factor these goals into their current cash-flow plan, with the result that when these needs arise they aren’t in a position to fund them. Examples include retirement, a down payment on a house, a replacement car, Catholic formation and education for children, seed money for a business and children’s weddings.

Sixth, a critical part of a financial plan is the annual budget. Review how you spent your resources in 2012, make adjustments for the financial impact of major life events that you can reasonably anticipate for 2013, and be honest with yourself if there are spending habits getting in the way of reaching your long-term goals.

Finally, the seventh step is to recognize that unproductive debt is a major obstacle to reaching your financial goals. If your past habits have generated unproductive debt, now is the time to correct those habits and create a plan that will eliminate those debts as rapidly as possible.

I wish you a blessed and financially free 2013. God love you!

Phil Lenahan is president of

Veritas Financial Ministries

(VeritasFinancialMinistries.com) and author of

7 Steps to Becoming Financially Free: A Catholic Small Group Study (OSV).