The holidays are over, and if, as Ebenezer Scrooge described, they were “a time for finding yourself a year older, but not an hour richer,” then the new year is the perfect time to make some wise and financially prudent resolutions. If you’re looking to put a little more money in your pocket (or in your retirement account) this year, there are several ways you can make healthy financial strides in 2018.
Put it on paper
Commitment can be scary. But making a resolution to “spend less” without actually creating a plan to do it is just setting yourself up for failure. If you want to save more money, you need to take a good look at how you’re spending it. Create a budget outlining all your expenses from your mortgage or rent down to your daily lattes. You might be surprised to see where your money is going. This also allows you control over where you can afford to trim.
… high interest, that is. If you’re sporting credit cards with high interest rates – and not paying them off every month – you’re throwing away cash that could be in your pocket (or pay for your retirement). If you don’t want to switch companies, contact your credit card company to request a lower interest rate.
Fill your fridge
If your budget shows an affinity for artisan coffee and lunch takeout, you’d probably be surprised how much you can save by making the grocery store a regular stop. According to CNBC, the average American household spends more than $3,000 per year eating out. If you’re getting lunch on the go, consider where that $10 a day could go – better places than your belly, anyway.
Is your savings account feeling lonely? If you’re never making deposits, make 2018 the year you start. But don’t make it another item on your to-do list. Take the stress out of saving by scheduling an automatic transfer from checking to savings each month. Don’t have a savings account? Choose one that offers a good interest rate and watch your savings save you even more.
Spring clean your credit
A good credit score doesn’t just give you buying power, it also allows you to save money by getting lower interest rates on loans and credit cards. If yours could use a lift (literally), work on cleaning it up this year. Wondering where to start? You can order a free report from annualcreditreport.com.
Put a roof over your head
If you’re not a homeowner, you could be missing out on a great way to save for retirement through the equity in your home, not to mention you can save some dough come tax season through interest deductions. If you’re ready to talk floor plans and interest rates, check out these homebuying tips.
Protect what you’ve got
When you’re saving, you want to make sure you’re protecting what’s yours. Don’t let identity theft thwart your plans. USA.gov outlines several ways to prevent identity theft, including checking your statements each month and freezing your credit if you suspect a breach.
… through a credit union, that is. As a member of a credit union, you’ll have access to better interest rates (both for investments and for borrowing), not to mention more personalized service. That’s because credit unions are owned and controlled by members, not shareholders.
If you think your current net worth doesn’t require some careful management, think again. Regardless of the size of your portfolio (or lack thereof), financial knowledge is financial power. A financial advisor can help guide you toward a financially healthy life for now and in the future. If you don’t have an advisor, talk to your bank or credit union about educational resources or recommendations.