8 Tips To Improve Your Personal FinancesDecember 15, 2015
As another holiday season winds down, use the first week of the New Year to assess where your personal budget can stand to improve.
Looking to improve your personal finance system in the New Year? While you catch up on last minute things you didn’t get to accomplish in 2015, here are some worthwhile tips for preparing your finances for 2016.
Top tips for the New Year
Is saving money and lessening your overall financial stress at the top of your 2016 resolution list? Once you get 2015 responsibilities out of the way, set up a budget for this year and pinpoint areas where you’d like to improve. Don’t underestimate the power of a good budget! There are plenty of ways you can make things easier for yourself financially this year:
- Tackle what you couldn’t in 2015. Have some unfinished business from last year that you didn’t have the time to get done? It happens- Put those last few things on the top of your to-do list for this year and you will be in good shape.
- Evaluate what you did wrong in 2015. While budgeting, evaluate monthly expenses from last year—Are there any areas you can cut back on? Magazine subscriptions, monthly health club fees, etc. can stack up, and if you don’t use them regularly, it will be worth your while to cancel. Before signing up for anything else in 2016, be sure to read the fine print and understand your payment obligations for the subscriptions. Look for opportunities to reduce your bills wherever you can, whether that’s changing your cell phone or cable provider, cutting down your plans, etc.
- Pay off any holiday credit card debts. Take care of the cards with the highest interest rates first—you will end up paying less interest in the long run. To save for 2016, consider switching to a card that offers zero percent interest on purchases.
- Set aside funds for college. It is never too early to take time to budget for things beyond your current affairs. Preparing a college fund when your children are young will save you stress when it comes time to actually send them off.
- Save for retirement. Similarly, setting aside funds whenever you can for retirement will be worth your while. To live comfortably in retirement, it is recommended that you have a minimum of $55,000 set aside by age 40 if you make $50,000 per year.
- Analyze your insurance coverage. Have your personal circumstances changed at all? Are you newly married, a new parent, or a new homeowner? Evaluate your insurance coverage and decide if the current plan is reaching your needs, and if not—consider a change.
- Consider refinancing your mortgage. If you’ve been considering a refinance on your mortgage, now might be the time to begin the process. Current mortgage rates are low, as they have been for the past seven years. Though research suggests that rates might increase throughout 2016, if your current mortgage rate is higher than the average market rate, it might be the right time to refinance.
- Set up an emergency fund. If possible, you might want to set aside some discretionary money in the form of an emergency fund. You will be significantly more prepared should you run into any financial issues or worst case, unemployment. Start small with setting aside $1 per day, then gradually increase the amount.
Reducing your financial stress depends on careful evaluation of your current financial situation, where you faltered last year, and what you can cut out to make this year more financially relaxed. Some individuals have found success by writing down every dollar they spend for an entire month—a good way to put things in perspective and determine where and when you can reduce your spending.
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