Get Financially Fit: 10 New Year’s Resolutions For Your Wallet
Too often at the beginning of a New Year, we don’t address one of the biggest problem areas in our lives: our finances. Instead of striving to be financially fit, our physical fitness is more important. While health and wellness should be a main priority in our lives, our finances should also take some type of priority as well. And as 2013 approaches, striving to be more wealthy should be another resolution to put on our list.
If you are looking to make a few changes in your financial part of life this New Years, here are a few suggestions of resolutions for your finances. Get in better financial shape in 2013!
Save, Save, Save
Saving more of your disposable income in 2013 should be the number one priority of your financial New Year’s resolutions. Whether you plan to finally take that trip to Cancun this year or looking to buy a new home, make the conscientious effort to save more this year to reach your goals.
One great way to save is to have a goal in mind, like some of the ideas above. Even if you don’t have a goal in mind, one great reason to save is for unexpected life changes, like losing your job or moving expenses. Many times, we push off saving because we think it’s only important to prepare for old age. Or you think there isn’t enough to cover expenses and save. If this is the case, sit down and outline all of your bills and the luxuries you afford yourself, like your monthly fee of Netflix or that premium cable package that you probably don’t need. Make it a point to cut down on the luxury costs of your life in order to save at least 10 percent of each check (or automatically transfer money into your savings account).
Invest in Retirement NOW
Retirement may be a long way off, but this shouldn’t stop you from investing early. With the economy at a downturn and retirement funds depleted, the best way to ensure you can retire at all is to act now. Online resources like CNN Money offer advice on how to plan for your retirement in your 20s, 30s and 40s. These resources also come along with a retirement plan calculator to determine how much you personally need to save for your retirement to be a thriving, healthy one.
Take things offline and research how your company or banking institution can help with offerings like an IRA or pension plan.
Check your Credit Score Once A Year
Make it a priority in 2013 to check all three of your credit scores — Experian, TransUnion and Equifax — at least once per year.
For one flat fee, many online resources allow you to retrieve all three of your credit scores via online or by mail, which is the most effective way. Also, many banks allow you to retrieve your credit score at least once a year for a free monthly trial. Try getting your reports via mail, which outlines any past delinquencies and credit issues. Checking your credit score is crucial every year to ensure that you qualify for various major life purchases, and sometimes, even employment.
Dispute Credit-Related Issues Instead of Ignoring Them
Checking your credit score is the first step of getting financially fit in the New Year. After you have received your credit score, double check it to make sure any credit-related issues can be disputed properly before it ruins your credit score. Too often, many Americans find a credit issue and do not dispute it, fearing the time and effort it takes to correct. But with patience and perseverance, it’s possible and necessary. The three credit bureaus online have instructions on how to dispute a credit issue through each of their bureaus.
Pay Down Lingering Debt
From college loans to that store credit card you’ve been hanging on to in case of an emergency (a mall-related emergency?), lingering debt should be taken care of in 2013. Hefty debts like college loans might be a little more difficult to wrangle in one year, but smaller debts like a credit card or a delinquent account should be paid down.
Invest in Financial Wisdom
One of the New Year’s resolutions that everyone should make is investing in some financial wisdom. Whether it is in the form of a mobile app that helps you manage your money like Mint, a resource specifically for African-Americans like Black Enterprise (and Madame Noire Business), or a personal third-party look at your finances like entrusting in a financial adviser, we all could use some type of resource to help us better manage our money.
Another great way to invest your money into bettering yourself financially is to attend financial conferences and workshops that could help you see your money in a different light. Or if you can swing it, visit a financial planner who can work with you one-on-one.
Have A Realistic Talk About Finances With Your Family
Whether you have made the decision to move in with your man in 2013, are newly married, or have a family, take the time out at the beginning of the year to sit them down and talk finances. Finances and money are one of the major reasons that marriages fall apart. Make sure you stress this conversation early in the process of your relationship to get on the same page. Your man may not like to talk finances, or you might like to shy away from the conversation in order to avoid conflict, but sharing money is no issue that should be swept under the rug of your relationship.
With a pen and piece of paper, sit down and have an honest discussion about how money will be dispersed in the house, what each of you can do to make the process of paying bills smoother, and how to cut down on some of the individual expenses in each others lives.
Get Rid of Accounts with Nonsensical Service Fees
With various banking institutions implementing monthly fees for their customers and other institutions following their lead, make it a priority in 2013 to do your research into cutting out the service charges from some of your accounts. These $5 and$10 fees add up to almost $100 over the course of a year alone, which is one less Benjamin in your pocket.
Many local credit unions do not charge monthly fees to their customers and seek out financial institutions with low or no fees. Another way to rid yourself of fees is to cut out using various bank machines that charge a hefty fee. Instead, visit ATMs at your own bank.
Invest in Something Bigger Than Yourself
In 2013, make the commitment to give money to a community service organization or any cause or charity that speaks to you. Investing in something bigger than the latest shoes or clothes makes your money last and mean something more to someone else.
If you would like your money to go to something more personal, give to your alma mater or another organization that has touched your life. Not only does it help others, but it is also beneficial during tax season!
Make A Long-Term Financial Plan
It is easy to spend your last on a great meal or that Michael Kors watch you’ve been eyeing for the past week, but committing to saving or investing your disposable income could mean bigger rewards in your later years. Sit down and outline the sources of your income, from your full-time career to any freelance or side gigs along with your financial commitments. Once you clearly see a map of where your money is going and how you can improve, use your disposable income to your advantage and make a financial plan for the next five to 10 years.
What are some of your financial goals for the New Year?