Finance Globe

U.S. financial and economic topics from several finance writers.
3 minutes reading time (636 words)

Financial Resolutions, Not Just for the New Year

There’s something so refreshing and motivating about the beginning of a new year. It’s why people pick this time of year to make major changes to their lifestyles – quit smoking or drinking, lose a few pounds, spend more time with the family, do better at work, stop procrastinating. The list goes on and on. Don’t forget to put a few of your financial bad habits on the list of things to leave in the old year.

Getting out of debt is one of the biggest financial resolutions made year after year. Yet, not as many people actually accomplish that goal. Getting completely out of debt in just a year may be unrealistic, especially if you have several thousands of dollars in debt. Also, paying off your debt requires some other changes, like cutting back on spending, that could take time to get used to.

Yes, you should definitely work on paying off your debt. However, make sure your timeline is realistic based on your income, expenses, and debt loan. Use a debt repayment calculator to figure out a reasonable amount of time to pay off your debt and make it your goal to pay off a certain dollar amount or percentage of your debt this year.

Credit repair is another big financial resolution. Like getting out of debt, credit repair is another big goal that could take several years to complete. So, make it your goal to get started. Order your credit reports, review them, and spend the year cleaning up the negative information.

Spend less money. The less money you spend, the more you save or pay off your debt. Temptations to spend are everywhere and spending money can have a snowball effect if you don’t keep it in check. Set a goal to reduce your spending by a certain amount and also have a plan for what you’ll do with the extra money. Continually check your spending to be sure you’re staying on track. Don’t be surprised if you have to rein yourself in throughout the year.

Save more money. Retirement and rainy day are two of the most important reasons for saving money. Your employer might offer an attractive retirement plan. Ask your human resources manager if you’re not already contributing. If you’re already contributing, try to increase your contributions. Not only will you have more money at retirement, you might also get a bigger tax deduction.

Don’t forget about building your emergency fund. Ideally, you should have at least three to six months of living expenses in a savings account. It may take awhile to get there, so take small steps. Start with a goal of $500, then $1000, $2500 and so on until you reach the big goal.

If donating money to charity falls on your list of resolutions, make sure you research charities before you start giving money. You want to give to a reputable, non-profit organization. Review your budget to decide how much you can afford to donate. Keep track of your donations if you plan to deduct the money on next year’s income taxes.

Some of your goals may conflict with each other: paying off debt, saving for retirement, building an emergency fund. They’re equally important. Try to find a balance between them all and contribute some money toward each goal.

Other financial resolutions may be to get more versed in personal finance or to contribute money to a Christmas savings account. If you want to take a big trip this year, save up for it instead of putting it on a credit card.

Remember that it takes time to accomplish big goals. Also remember that you don’t need the start of a new year to make a resolution. If you’re tired of your financial situation, you can change it anytime of year, new year or not.
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Monday, 14 October 2019

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