PHOENIX -- Financial planners advise clients to be specific about money goals and take advantage of free financial tools as 2018 begins.
Steve Fullerton from Fullerton Financial Planning has a step-by-step approach to better money management in January.
Week 1 is the time to make a budget.
"People don't like a budget; they just like to freelance and do whatever they do," Fullerton said. "It's fine if you got a whole ton of money, but if you don't, that's a real problem."
A budgeting app like Mint can help you get started.
In week 2, start small.
For example, you may choose to save $100 a month by giving up a $5-a-cup weekday coffee habit.
Fullerton also recommended designating a weekly "no spend day" where you only eat at home and do free activities.
Update your retirement account plan in week 3.
Fullerton said it is a good bet to put 10 to 15 percent of your annual salary into retirement savings.
If that seems overwhelming, Fullerton said start with your 401k plan through your job and "whatever your company will match would be the absolute minimum I would recommend."
Fullerton says check yourself at milestones. At age 35, you want to have about twice your annual income in retirement savings. By age 67, you want to have 10 times your annual income.
Week 4 is a time to make sure you can keep your plan going.
Review your options, and see if you can make any improvements. If you are stuck, Fullerton says seek the advice of a financial planner. Some offer a free first-time consultation.
Finally, don't be discouraged.
"There's a thing called life that happens," Fullerton said. "It's gonna be roadblocks and stumbling blocks, but we can make it happen."
A monthly financial planning guide may help you sustain your 2018 changes.