Usher in the new year with plans for financial improvement and resolutions to do more!
Here are some tips to get you started:
Tune your budget
It’s great to start the new year with a plan. A budget is a plan that starts with the income you expect and your fixed expenses such as your mortgage, insurance, and utilities. The plan incorporates your savings goals, and the remaining money is designated for your other expenses. A realistic budget will help you set your financial goals and will remind you to stick to them. Now is the perfect time to assess last year’s budget or create a new one if you don’t yet have one in place.
Reviewing how you spent last year’s money will help you make better financial decisions for the year ahead. While thinking about it, include a method for tracking your spending.
Even with a solid plan, there can be surprises along the way, so be sure to build an emergency fund into your budget.
Plan to meet your goals
Consider how you will accomplish your goals. You might have shorter-term goals, such as purchasing a new home, as well as longer-term goals, like retirement. Each set of goals requires different kinds of planning and saving.
Financial planners recommend setting up separate savings account for each goal. This way, your progress toward that goal is clear.
It’s best to work backward to determine how much you need to save for each goal. Determine the cost of your goal. Then, establish a reasonable time-frame for the amount you’ll need to save each month.
Make your financial future more secure this year by identifying your wants and needs. Your needs are necessary for survival and include food and shelter. Your wants are simply things you desire-like a luxury car. Tend to your needs first. Then, if there is money remaining, consider your wants.
To some this is obvious, but for many of us, the lines are blurred between wants and needs.
Maximize tax contributions
Tax deductions can be a valuable source of savings. If you have employer-matching funds available, take advantage of them. Also, verify that you are contributing the optimal amount to your 401K and IRA.
Check your flexible savings account (FSA)
If you have unspent money in your FSA, now is the time to use it. Your pre-tax dollars in such accounts typically need to be spent before the end of the year, or they are lost.
These are just a few of the many ways you can prepare financially for the new year. With a little attention to some often-overlooked details, a little perseverance and a little mindfulness throughout, you’ll be moving forward with a strong foundation and positive outlook.