5 Essential Money Moves to Start the New Year
Now that we’ve officially ushered in the New Year, it’s time to take stock and determine what you want to achieve in the year ahead. These are the five money moves to make during the first quarter to set you up for a successful 2018.
Pay Off Holiday Debt
If you ended up using credit cards to pay for holiday gifts, make a plan to pay off that debt quickly. The last thing you want is to have it hanging around all year, accruing interest charges. Our online financial assessment can help you determine your overall financial situation and provide an action plan to pay off that debt quickly. Also consider getting a temporary part-time job or selling unused household items to make some quick cash to knock down those bills.
Prepare to File Taxes
Not a single person enjoys filing their taxes, but the more prepared you are, the easier and quicker it will be. Check the mail every day and gather all your W2s and other important paperwork as it comes in. Decide if you will file on your own using tax software or if you think you need a professional’s help. If you decide to work with a professional, call to make an appointment now so you’re not scrambling at the last minute. We do get an additional two days to file this year, but April 17 will be here much more quickly than you think.
Evaluate Your Spending
Don’t let the freewheeling spending of the holiday season carry over into the new year. Stop, take a breath and put yourself on a temporary spending freeze while you evaluate your finances. Take a look at where your money is really going. For example, review your streaming video subscriptions and music memberships and cancel anything you no longer use or enjoy. Look at other automatic charges, such as gym memberships or boxed meal services, that you may no longer use. The most important thing is to know where your money is going and why.
Adjust Your Habits
Once you have a more accurate view of where your money is going, you can decide how to adjust your habits to make the most of it. If you get take-out coffee every morning and go out to lunch every day, start making your own breakfast and lunch a few days a week. If you’re in the habit of online shopping when you’re stressed or bored, find another way to occupy your time. A new year is a clean slate and a chance to develop positive habits you’ll be proud of.
Start Saving More
If you don’t have one yet, make this the year you commit to working toward a fully funded emergency savings account. It’s one of the most important things you can do to develop financial security and peace of mind. If you already have emergency savings in place, that’s not a free pass to get out of saving. Start putting more away for retirement, increase your contributions to your health savings account (HSA) or save up for your summer vacation so you don’t have to use credit cards to pay for it.