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2015 Financial Report Card

December 30, 2015

The New Year is upon us with fresh opportunities, challenges and surprises; a good number of which are financially-focused. Reflecting on the year behind provides new perspective for what was and what is to come. Are you feeling confident with last year’s financial choices, or are you ready to start fresh? Are your financial patterns ones you hope to continue, or are they detrimental habits that need to be broken? You were taught a multitude of financial lessons and given several financial tests throughout the year, and now it is time for final grades. Take a moment to evaluate your personal fiscal year as 2016 begins.

Utmost Achievement: Does an instance stand out when a goal was accomplished, a habit was broken or a milestone was reached? Maybe you paid off a credit card or saved enough to afford a new appliance. Hold on to that feeling of accomplishment and remember the positive outcomes it yielded. Let it set the tone for achievements to come and fuel your ambition in 2016. If nothing substantial is coming to mind, now is your chance to set out to achieve a financial goal in 2016. Whether it is small or large, having objectives to strive for will keep you motivated and on track.

Biggest Blunder: Was there a financial slip-up that, in hindsight, you wish you could redo? While it is not enjoyable to relive moments like these, they can be less intimidating when they are viewed as learning opportunities. Take note of what you would do differently and approach this year with confidence in knowing you will not let the same blunder happen again.

Positive Patterns: What routines made a constructive difference in how you spent and saved money? Did you develop a budgeting technique that you actually stuck to, or designate certain days of the week to spend money eating out? When significant achievements are obtained, rewarding habits are likely nearby. Determine what positive patterns supported your financial well-being throughout last year so that you can be sure to continue them in 2016. Additionally, strengthen these tendencies by adapting to new aspirations so that your routines do not lose steam.

Costly Conventions: Should any of your habits be left behind in 2015? Oftentimes, good New Year’s intentions fade all too quickly, making it is easy to fall back into old patterns. In order to ditch them for good, you will need an action plan. Breaking habits cold-turkey may not be the best solution. Give yourself time to adapt to more financially-savvy ways, but hold yourself accountable with smaller goals as you go.

After looking back on 2015, how would you grade yourself? Are you confident that you can continue in the direction you are headed, or is there ample room for improvement? Regardless, a grade is just that - a grade. Life is much more than a classroom, and these “grades” are not the be-all end-all of our financial state. There is no time like the present to make changes for the better. Rather than wiping the slate completely clean this year, hold onto the valuable lessons that can be learned from 2015 and build upon those as you strive to achieve new goals, avoid blunders, continue positive patterns and ditch costly habits.

Jim Oosterman is the Vice President of Melrose Bank. He can be reached by telephone at 781-665-2500, online at or on Facebook at

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