- Finances for Newlyweds
- New Year's Financial Resolutions
New Year's Financial Resolutions
How are your New Year's money resolutions holding up? It's a good time to check in to see if your money is on track.
- Creating a retirement finance plan. It's never too late, or too early, to put together a retirement plan. You may already contribute to a 401k plan, a Roth or traditional IRA, but you need to look at all of your investments and savings to see the big picture. Find an investment professional to help you evaluate where you are, what you want and how you can get there.
- Establishing a budget. It's always the perfect time of year to start a budget.
- Documenting your income. OK, so maybe it's just your paycheck, but you should also include other types of regular income in your budget, such as alimony or child support. But don't count income that isn't a sure thing, such as a bonus, tips or money from friends and family.
- Documenting your expenses. Monitor your monthly expenses and estimate your costs. Some are fixed and obvious, such as a mortgage, rent or insurance payment. Others, such as clothing, gas and entertainment, are less obvious and more difficult to estimate. You'll also probably want to have a miscellaneous column for unexpected expenses.
- Determining your monthly bottom line. Match your expenses with your earnings. If you end up with extra money, look for ways to make that money work for you in various investments. If you end up with a deficit, figure out where the extra money is going and consider making some adjustments. By cutting back $40 a week, you'll have about $2,000 more at the end of the year.
- Getting in the habit of saving money. They say it takes 30 days to establish a habit. If you get into the habit of saving money, the “how much” will take care of itself. Start with small amounts if you need to, because every little bit helps, and have a percentage of your paycheck directly deposited into a savings account. Finally, start using coupons, paying yourself the amount you save and adding it to your savings balance.
- Paying off your credit card debt. Make more than the minimum payment each month, and make it on time. Late payment fees can quickly sabotage your attempts to pay down the balance. Know your cards' interest rates and focus your efforts on reducing the balances on the ones with the highest rates.
Many New Year's resolutions start with a bang and then fizzle. Keep yours sizzling by setting small goals and rewarding yourself when you reach them. Taking action now will help you achieve a more comfortable future.