request info email to friend
Resolutions for Your Financial Health
Your New Year’s resolutions probably revolve around getting healthier. Maybe you want to lose weight, get more exercise, eat better. But when you are setting your goals for the new year, don’t overlook your financial health. There are several things you can do to help make your financial future more secure, including:
Go on a budget. If you, like most people, spent more than you planned to over the holidays, this is a good time to start cutting back. But first you need to know how much you spend. Keep track of your spending for a month; be strict, writing down everything. Then look at where your money goes.
Divide your spending into fixed expenses such as your mortgage or rent, insurance, car payment, other loan payments, etc.; flexible expenses such as food, essential travel, phone bills, etc.; and discretionary spending such as entertainment, gifts, travel for fun, etc. See how much you have left over for things like saving or paying off debt.
If you have nothing or very little left over, look for ways you can cut back to free up more money for securing your financial future. Can you bring your lunch rather than eat out? Can you adjust your cable or cell phone plan? Can you give up your daily latte?
Then write down a budget reflecting your new goals, and stick to it.
Figure your net worth. Your net worth is simply your assets -- money in the bank, value of your home, car, etc. -- minus your liabilities -- mortgage, loans, credit card debt, etc. You should make it a goal to increase your net worth every year.
Get started on your taxes. Gather the appropriate paperwork and either talk to a tax professional or start the process yourself. If you are getting a refund, the sooner you file, the sooner you get the money. If you owe money, if your refund is not as much as you expected, or if you expect your financial situation to change in the new year, consider whether you should adjust your withholding.
Get a copy of your credit reports from all three credit agencies, and review them. Follow up if you have any questions. You can get a free copy of your credit reports – though not your scores – annually from www.annualcreditreport.com.
Check to see if you need to update your will. If you don’t have a will, make one.
Go through your paperwork. File what needs to be filed, and toss what you can toss. Make sure to keep copies of important documents in a fireproof safe or a bank safe-deposit box.