After dropping serious cash on holiday presents and parties, many people resolve to get their spending under control for the new year. But just vowing to spend less and save more is probably not going to cut it. By breaking down these vague ideas into more actionable money resolutions to tackle in the new year, you can help get your finances under control for good.
Sure, reviewing your budget is not the most fun way to spend the last of your holiday vacation, but a few minutes of planning now can help you obtain some financial peace of mind for the rest of the year. And in a few weeks, these financial practices will just become second nature. You’ll still be a saving champ long after most people’s resolutions have been long abandoned.
Getting your money in order may have additional benefits, too. As CBS News reports, money is the biggest source of stress for most Americans, and it affects women and parents even more acutely. So getting your finances in order may be one of the best ways to reduce your own stress and provide more security for your family. Peace of mind and more financial stability? Let’s toast to that!
1. Keep Good Records
That jumbled shoe box of receipts? So last year. As Forbes notes, good records make tax time a cinch, and they help ensure you don't miss any returns or important correspondences. To keep the clutter to a minimum, use a NeatReceipts scanner or app such as CamScanner to digitize paper receipts in no time.
2. Get Techy
There are a ton of personal finance apps and software to help you keep those financial records straight. Business Insider recommends apps such as Mint and Level Money to keep up with monthly expenses, while Quicken and AceMoney are personal finance software packages recommended by Investopedia.
3. Automate Savings
U.S. News & World Report suggests automating your savings to withdraw a set amount from your checking account each month. This will let you accumulate a nice stack of cash without much effort.
4. Examine Your Retirement Savings
As Investopedia suggests, you may want to consider maxing out your retirement contributions at work to make sure you have a great nest egg to fall back on. (Just don't contribute more than you can afford at the moment).
5. Think About Your Kid's College Tuition
Even if she’s still in diapers, it’s never too soon to start preparing for the financial juggernaut that is college. Bankrupt explains that a 529 college plan is one of the most common ways to save for education, because these plans offer major tax breaks for parents Other options, such as a Roth IRA, may work for your family too.
6. Join A Community Of Savers
The buddy system is a great way to get through almost any ordeal, and this is true for financial goals as well. In Charge recommends finding your fellow savers at money management classes or in online communities. Having people to turn to for advice and insight can help you stay on track.
7. Work Within Your Means
Emergencies aside, spending less than you earn each month is the basic standard of good budgeting. CNN Money recommends keeping up with ATM withdrawals and making sure your spending doesn't increase as your income goes up.
8. Befriend Your FICO Score
Thinking about buying a house or making another big purchase in the near future? Pay your debts on time and keep an eye on your FICO score. As MyFICO shows, your FICO score can affect loan interest rates and approvals.
Most budgets can accommodate a little giving to charities, nonprofits, or other worthy causes. Sites such as Charity Navigator offer lists of worthwhile organizations that cover everything from community development to health and human services. If you have a little extra cash, then supporting deserving causes is always a great investment.