There are a number of financial management tools and resources available to help make the goal of improving finances an achievable undertaking, whether viewed as a New Year’s resolution or a consistent, long-term objective. If you’ve resolved to improve your finances in the new year, consider these money management and resolution tips from U.S. News & World Report.
10 Tips to Improve Your Finances in the New Year
- Identify your financial goals – Whether you’re planning to buy a home, contribute more to your retirement savings or start an emergency fund, take the time to document your specific financial goals for the year and attach a timeline to each so you can feel accomplished with each milestone.
- Track your budget. Routinely track your monthly spending so you can see where your money is going and identify areas where you can cut frivolities and reallocate those funds to meet your goals.
- Check your credit report. Request a free credit report on annualcreditreport.com to understand your credit standing and ensure accuracy. Consumers are entitled to one free credit report each year from each of the three credit bureaus – Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion.
- Commit to no-spend days. Designate one “no-spend weekend” or “no-spend day” per month. Make this a time when no money leaves your hands or accounts (i.e. eat at home, skip shopping sprees and engage in free entertainment).
- Boost retirement contributions. Commit to boosting your 401(k) contributions. At the least, contribute enough to your workplace plan to secure your employer’s match, which is typically between 3% and 6%, if one is offered.
- Fast-track debt payoff goals. This could mean contributing an extra $50 per month to your debt bill or deploying the avalanche payoff strategy, which focuses on putting any extra payments toward the highest rate loan first.
- Automate good habits. Whether you want to save more for retirement or repay debt, automate those monthly debits with your payroll office or your credit union.
- Rebalance your investment portfolio. Market volatility, new money goals, financial hurdles, and other unanticipated changes can impact how you should balance your investment portfolios. Keep an eye toward your long-term and short-term goals and make sure you’re viewing the market with clear eyes – not a fear-based mentality.
- Call your credit card company. If your credit card account is in good standing, take this time to negotiate a credit limit increase with your card issuer so you can improve your credit score, or make the case for a lower annual percentage rate (APR).
- Fund your health savings account. Savers in eligible high-deductible insurance plans should consider contributing to their Health Savings Account (HSA) as a tax-savvy way to save for future medical expenses.