New Year’s Resolutions For Getting your Financial House in Order
Whether your financial goals for the year include buying a home, improving your credit score or reducing debt, the New Year is the perfect time to get your financial house in order. Here are some key things to consider as you set your New Year’s resolutions and make progress toward your financial goals this year:
Make a budget
The rules of money have changed, and so have the tools to manage it. Whether you use a traditional checkbook, spreadsheet or mobile apps like Mint, Learnvest or Google Wallet, the first step is to understand where you are spending your money. Choose a system to track expenses that works for you and stick with it. Debit card purchases can sneak up on you, so make sure to check your bank statements and keep track of your purchases every month. If you’re using a mobile app to track your spending, you may be able to link your bank account to the program so that each purchase is recorded and categorized automatically.
Save more money
If you are saving for a down payment on a home, meeting with a mortgage expert to explore the types of loans available and the down payment necessary will help you to set that goal. But as you save to buy a house, remember to put aside emergency funds as well.
Financial experts recommend saving an emergency fund that can cover two to six months of living expenses. Consider your monthly expenses (rent, utilities, car payment, insurance, etc.) and set a reasonable savings goal. Put money aside each month to slowly build your savings account. Use these money saving tips for ideas on how you can cut unnecessary spending and save more of your hard-earned cash.
Once you start tracking your purchases, you’ll quickly see areas in which you can reduce expenses. For instance, fast food or coffee/beverage purchases seem pretty harmless at a few dollars a day, but when you add up those small amounts, you may find that you could be saving an additional $50-60 each month by packing a lunch or bringing a beverage from home a few times a week.
Keeping a list of all of your credit cards and the balances owed can help you to prioritize and set a plan to pay off your debt and improve your credit score. Some financial experts recommend paying off the lowest debt first (while making minimum payments on the others) so that you can see progress more quickly.
Whether you are planning to purchase a home or manage your current mortgage, it’s never too soon to set the financial groundwork.