Whether you call them resolutions, goals, or plans, the New Year is when we think about what we want to accomplish during the next 12 months. And while it’s good to have some big changes in mind, it’s often the smaller, more manageable changes that create a lasting effect. Here are some small, but important, things you can do to set yourself up for a more financially successful 2016.
Pay Everything on Time — Most of us don’t mean to pay a bill late, it’s just something that slips the mind. You can avoid paying bills late — along with the accompanying late fees and dings to your credit — by setting up electronic payment reminders and arranging auto-pay.
Avoid Overdrafts — Electronic banking has made it easier to keep track of account balances, but there’s always a chance your account could fall short. Set up email or text notifications that let you know when your account reaches a minimum amount so you stop spending. You may also want to set up overdraft protection that’s tied to a savings account or credit card.
Eliminate Temptation — Cut the clutter in your inbox and reduce the temptation for impulse shopping by unsubscribing from retailers’ emails. Seeing every sale or special is just an easy invitation to overspend. Once those emails are gone, you won’t miss them. And it’s easy enough to do a quick search for a promo code when you do have something you need to buy.
Set Up Automatic Savings — If you have your paycheck directly deposited, arrange it so that a portion of that money goes directly into an emergency savings account, IRA, or 401(k). It doesn’t even have to be a lot, just enough so that you’re building savings with every paycheck. If you choose to contribute to a 401(k), the money is deducted before taxes and there is usually an employer match, which means your savings will grow even faster!
Go Paperless — If you haven’t done this already, what are you waiting for? With mobile apps for banking and credit cards, it’s easier than ever to keep track of your accounts. There’s no need to continue getting paper statements that just create clutter and have to be filed or shredded. Plus, not having paper statements sit in the mailbox all day helps reduce the chance of identity theft.
If you’re not sure where you stand financially and need some help figuring it out, Credit Look or Credit Counseling can help you make a fresh start.