Making and breaking New Year’s resolutions seem to be an annual ritual. Let’s face it – sticking to lofty goals can be challenging, especially when financial resolutions are involved. Here are 10 easy, manageable tips to help boost your finances in 2019.
1. Make a list of your debts
Paying off debt is a top New Year’s resolution for many. The first step is knowing how much you owe. List out each debt – name of creditor, balance and interest rate. From there, strategize your game plan to pay off or drastically reduce each balance. You likely want to pay off the highest interest debt first since it’s draining your wallet at the fastest rate.
2. Write down your goals
You have a goal in mind – something you want to achieve or change in your life. It sounds so cliche to say write it down. You know what you want so why bother? Countless studies have found that the simple act of writing down your goals dramatically improves your chances of achieving what you set out to do. If you can improve your chances of success, why not try it?
3. Automate your savings
All too often irrational behavior gets in the way of savings goals. Try a new approach. Automate your savings, even if it’s only a small amount. It’s as easy as setting up an auto transfer with your bank or a direct deposit with your paycheck. What you can’t see you won’t miss.
4. Target your savings accounts
Setting up multiple savings accounts can help you see your goals more clearly. For example, you may have an emergency fund, a vacation fund and a new car fund. Figure out how long it will take you to reach the target and slowly nest money into the account away from everyday spending temptations.
5. Set up banking alerts
Set up alerts for bank accounts and credit card accounts. Emails or text alerts help you track money in and out of your account as well as avoid missed payments, overdraft fees and other costly mistakes.
6. Boost your retirement contribution
Even if you are whittling down debt, don’t forget about the future. Try bumping up your retirement contribution by 10 percent – it won’t be missed in all probability. You pay less in taxes today and a larger portion of your income grows tax-deferred, likely giving you the best bang for your buck.
7. Avoid post-holiday debt regret
No sooner are the holidays over and countless bills are now rolling in. Even people who are smart with their money are often faced with credit card bills this time of year. Start saving now for next year’s holiday season. With automated weekly savings of $20 (or whatever you need) into a designated account, you’ll reduce next year’s holiday stress.
8. Unsubscribe from promotional emails
Some of us just can’t miss a good sale. Remove the temptation of relentless emails from your favorite store. Unsubscribe from sale emails if you just can’t help yourself.
9. Live without your raise
If you just got a raise, congratulations! Now use the difference in your paychecks to dig yourself out of debt, boost your retirement and target your savings accounts. Stick with this method to avoid lifestyle inflation where your raise melts away and you’re working just to spend more.
10. Do an annual checkup
At least annually, take a look at your retirement savings and investments, review your budget and assess how your goals are coming along. Recalibrating is often needed to offset life’s curveballs.
The bottom line
While working toward your improved financial health, don’t get discouraged. These 10 easy tips can help your finances throughout the year. ￼
Chris Thornburgh is a CPA and partner at Brown Armstrong Accountancy Corp. Contact her at email@example.com or 661-324-4971. The views expressed are her own.