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This article is about making money work for you in the new year. After all, the new year is coming up in just a couple of weeks now! But even if you are reading this article well after Jan 1, not to worry – these principles still apply 24/7/365.

Now let’s dive in, and allow me to start by saying you must find your passion. While this may seem unrelated from making money work for you, it turns out there’s actually a big connection here.

So, what are you passionate about? This can be a hard question to answer. Your natural talents don’t necessarily indicate your passion. The thing you are most intrigued by may seem silly or like a waste of time. Your passion doesn’t necessarily have to be what you pursue as a career, but if you can identify something that would make you happier, you should make room for it in your life.

A lot of times, even if we know what makes us tick, our spending reflects our habits, not what we feel strongly about.

For example, you always spend money playing golf on the weekends because that’s what you’ve always done. But are you lit up inside when you think about another round of golf?

You want to take up dance, but the classes would require changes to your schedule, and you just haven’t gotten around to it.

This is easy to do with kids too. You get into travel sports and after a while, it’s all consuming. While games are fun, there may be another activity that the family would enjoy together if you had some of that time and money back.

And this is the key to starting down the path of making money work for you.

Making Money Work For You (Hint: Not Just a New Year’s Resolution)

Making Money Work for YouAside from what you do with your free time and pocket money, what about big life experiences—starting a business, writing a book, buying your first home, taking a life-changing trip? None of these things can happen without thoughtful action. I challenge you to make this the year you go all-in on something you’ve always wanted to do.

2020 gave us all a lot of time for reflection. While we were forced to work differently and slow down, it also served as a reset button for how we want to operate going forward. It reminded us that life is uncertain. It was also a reminder of the importance of making money work for you.

Maybe that job you thought was the safe choice didn’t weather the pandemic well. Perhaps seeing the fragility of life up close makes you want to use your time in a way that is more meaningful.

Sometimes a year of loss is the best time to start over.

In 2008, after ignoring my own unhealthy spending habits, the market crash took my business down. I was out of work, hurting from a bad breakup, and now, forced to face my borrowing problem. I was still grappling with my brother’s decision to take his own life the year prior because he felt trapped and defined by his inability to fund his life. And here, in my grief, I was pounding down the same road.

I was educated when it came to finances!  Why was I letting my emotions dictate my spending? Well, emotions are powerful things after all! The constant maneuvering to support my lifestyle with credit means I was always reactive.

In a nutshell, I wasn’t going through life with a clear idea of what I wanted to do and who I wanted to be. I was just managing the debt I kept accruing so I could keep a roof over my head and maintain some semblance of success to everyone else. In other words, pretty much the opposite of making money work for you.

Long time Money Shame

My problems were perpetuated by the shame I felt from a lifetime of struggle with addiction. The road to starting over meant I had to address those behaviors. You can hear more about my story on NPR’s TED radio hour.

If you find yourself in a similar situation, please reach out for help. AA has been a godsend for me at my darkest moments. You have to be honest with the demons that hold you back before you try to rebuild. If you don’t face your shame, you will self-sabotage the goals you make for the future.

I share this story about myself to say, in 2008, I thought it was all over. But it was the beginning of some of my most personally fulfilling and professionally profitable years after I went through a healing process and started over with my business.

Maybe you lost a job this year and you have spent savings that you didn’t want to. The job market is tough right now. While these things are not your fault, it’s easy to fall into a victim space. One of my challenges as a coach is fighting this mindset in my clients, because this is a comfortable place to wallow, but doesn’t inspire action.

You may have experienced a big loss. Or you may just feel like you are always treading water, not really getting ahead in life the way you want to. You may feeling like money is not working for you.

Let’s do something about that now! Whatever your goals for the new year, I want to help you attain them.


Dreams are the starting point, but they need more structure to become goals. You may be familiar with the SMART acronym from business lingo. It says that you are more likely to succeed when your goals are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound.

Specific means you provide a marker so you know when you have reached your goal. If you want to get in shape, it’s more motivating to sign up for a half marathon near you and put together a realistic training schedule than to just say, “I’m going to start running more.”

This goes hand in hand with measurable. I’ll be able to run 13.1 miles in April. I’m going to increase my sales by 5 next month. I’m going to pay an extra $250/month towards my credit card I am no longer using.

Just as specific and measurable go together, attainable and relevant are closely related. Attainable goals are inspiring, not overwhelming. If you want to open a business, make your attainable goal, “Next month, I need to meet with the bank to talk about loan options for small businesses.” This goal is relevant to your larger project, while it gives you a checklist item you can feel good about completing.

Time-bound means you put an end date on each goal. You plan to see your dream come to life by a certain date. You are going to finish writing your book by January 2022. The idea is that your goals don’t just hang out there until you feel like taking action.

In summary, by setting SMART goals you can make money work for you a lot faster, because your odds of success greatly increase.

Are You Feeling It Yet?

As you are creating goals for the new year, make sure you “passion test” them. On a scale of 1-10, how excited are you about the goals you have set out for yourself? If they aren’t a 9 or 10, why are you doing it?

If a project doesn’t inspire you, replace it with one that does. Creating goals that make you into the person you think you should be or that bring you professional success are not good goals if they cause you to slog through another year doing something you hate.

The purpose of this exercise is to get excited about your future! Not create some check-list for your performance review.

Don’t Work For Money; Make Money Work FOR You!

Money itself should almost never be the goal.

While many may say they want to start a business to make money, money is not a passion. When the work gets hard and the hours get long, the thing that will keep you working towards your goal is your WHY — flexible time for family, doing work that inspires you, contributing a service that ties you to your community.

This is why it’s very important that you are make money work for you instead of the other way around (working to make money…).

If you are passionate about your WHY, other people will respond. If you are running a business, this often translates to dollars. But the sustaining benefit will be the satisfaction you derive from bringing your ideas to fruition and creating something that you stand behind.

Whether 2021 is the year you will build and move into a tiny house, travel the world, or get a puppy, we’d love to hear about it over in the Money Detox Circle. Membership is free, and it’s a great place to talk with others coming to terms with living their best life, right now.

Tammy Lally

I BELIEVE MONEY IS NOT YOUR WORTH. Tammy Lally is an author, speaker, and Certified Money Coach (CMC). She helps others master their finances by first conquering their emotions around money, then by creating a comprehensive financial plan. She brings decades of experience and endless love to her bulletproof process for money mastery. She is the author of the book Money Detox, and her TED talk on Money Shame has over 2 million views.

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