The new year is only days away, and you might be thinking “what can I do differently this year to improve my finances?”

Here are 7 tips to help you improve your finances in 2017:

1- Become clear on your goals. …and by goal, I don’t mean “I want to win the lottery before my retirement” (although that would be great !) . Goals have to be defined in a specific way and with a deadline. (Read this past blog for a detailed explanation).

So go ahead, grab a pen and a paper and jot down your SPECIFIC financial goals for 2017.

2- Track your spending. I know you’ve heard this advice over two thousand and seventeen times before, but the truth is, it works!

Tracking can add considerable clarity to your financial life. It will also help you answer that famous question “where in the world is my money disappearing?”

3- Become financially literate. No one is born knowing how money works, and we can all learn about money. We are lucky to live in an information age, where knowledge is at our fingertips. So educate yourself by subscribing to a couple financial newsletters (these are 2 of my favorites: Boomer & Echo  and Credit Counselling Society), attend free money webinars , enroll in a free money class, borrow a few personal finance books from your local library. Or work with a money coach to get personalized help.

4- Setup a regular date with your money. Do not wait for a financial crisis before you tackle your finances. Look at them on a regular basis so you act sooner, rather than later.

5 – Set up an emergency fund. You can easily get discouraged when you hear financial experts recommend an emergency fund equivalent to 3-8 months of expenses. For starters (especially those with a high debt load), I recommend a mini emergency fund of $1500-2500. It’s enough to give you some financial breathing room. It will also give you the motivation to achieve a larger fund in the future.

6- Protect your family. A few ways to ensure your family is protected are to have an up-to-date notarial will, and have sufficient insurance coverage for disability, life and critical illness. We never know what life has in store for us, so a bit of planning is necessary.

7- Indulge. You didn’t see that one coming, did you? After you have accomplished all of the above, choose something you enjoy and financially indulge on it! Of course, it has to fit within your budget, but if you are doing everything I mentioned above, I know you will have the awareness as to what fits and what doesn’t fit.

 I wish you a joyful, prosperous and fruitful 2017 !