Start the New Year off by resolving to correct the year’s past bad habits that have had a negative effect on your financial health. You can take control of your money and start living a financially responsible life. Here are a few suggestions to get you started.
- Make a few financial “Promises” instead of “resolutions”. Only 8% of us actually achieve our New Year’s resolutions according to a report from the University of Scranton’s “Journal of Clinical Psychology, so when making your list of things to change, think of your changes as a promise you have made… forget about New Year’s resolutions.
- Review your budget. You have a budget right? Well, if you don’t add “make a budget” to the top of your list! If you do have a budget, the beginning of the New Year is the perfect time to reevaluate your savings and debt reduction goals. It is easy to spend money that you can easily get to. So in order to help you reach your savings goals, be sure to transfer money meant for savings, to an account that is not easily accessed… it will be less tempting to spend that money.
- Set new savings goals for 2014. This also includes how much you would like to add to your retirement savings, your kid’s college fund or the down payment on your dream home. Now is also a good time to adjust how much you plan to pay on your debts, personal loans and home mortgage accounts.
- Pay a little extra on the mortgage. Each month make a principal reduction payment to your mortgage. By doing this, you’ll earn a risk-free return on that hard-earned money equal to your mortgage interest rate. Not to mention. You will reduce the number of years it will take to pay off your mortgage. If though you don’t have enough money to do both, and you have to decide between adding to your retirement account or paying extra on your mortgage, be sure to talk to a financial adviser to decide which selection is more suitable for you and your situation.
- Get rid of credit chaos. Do you really have to have all of those credit card accounts? Promise yourself to get rid of the credit clutter, consolidate loans and payoff those small balances. Also, for each credit account you don’t need or use, consider closing it… less accounts will make it easier to protect yourself from identity theft.
- Write it down. For one month write down every cent you spend. Don’t just write down the major stuff like rent, mortgage, electric… write down every time you spend money: coffee on the way to work, the candy bar when you get gas, dry-cleaning, that bottle of energy water from the gym… everything. Now you can see where all of your money is really going. Make the necessary adjustments to reel in your spending.
Strive to be Debt Free
Take bigger steps towards living a debt free life. Pick the debt with the lowest balance and start hammering away at it until you get it paid off. If you have any debt at all, then you have surely experienced the stress that accompanies it. When you pay off your debt, you get rid of that black cloud that hangs over your head. Debt controls our life and the decisions we make. Depending on how much debt you have, it can even cause loss of sleep. The joy and satisfaction you will receive when you start paying off your debt is priceless
There’s an Emergency!
Make this New Year the year you start building your emergency fund. If you are like many Americans living paycheck to paycheck, a major expense or loss of a job can lead to financial ruin within 90 days. Make it a promise for the New Year to start your emergency fund and be prepared for the unexpected.
Start out slowly by setting aside a few dollars a month. Then gradually work up to making as much as a contribution to your emergency fund as your budget will allow. A sensible goal for an emergency fund is to have one year’s worth of living expenses in reserve. A good method for making deposits to your emergency fund is to use all or half of the amount of the original credit card payment that you just paid off. Imagine how less stressful a loss of income will be if you know you are able to live an entire year without any income coming in!
A Whole Year Ahead of You
Make this the year that you get your financial house in order. By following these tips you can kick-start your New Year and gain the momentum that will keep you going throughout the year.
If you find yourself in a financial mess and you feel that you can’t get out of it on your own… you need the help of a professional. The professionals at DebtHelper.com can explain the benefits of a debt management program and provide you with a fresh start.
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