It’s a new year, and with a new year comes new decisions. Take the time to get your financial world in order with these simple steps:
Assess your discretionary spending. How much money do you have left for spending, investing or saving after taxes and personal necessities (such as food, shelter and clothing) have been accounted for? Everyone uses this income differently. Maybe it’s the $4 latte every morning or the several $2 iPhone apps buy per week. The first step this year should be to sit down and comb through two months of bank account and credit card statements, adding up the little charges and expenses. Find the budgetary leaks and start plugging up the holes.
Credit Profile. How long has it been since you’ve looked at your credit report? Federal law states that the three major credit reporting agencies give you a free copy of your credit report every year. This will allow you to resolve any errors, which is crucial to your financial health. Once you have the first report as a baseline, you can use Credit.com’s free Credit Report Card to monitor your credit more regularly. You’ll get free credit scores monthly and break downs of the information in your credit report.
Budget. Now that you have a greater understanding of what you owe and where your money is going, the best way to keep your spending in line is through budgeting. Making a budget for your discretionary income will help you keep track of the lattes, iPhone apps, take-out lunches, and other splurges. Knowing how much you’ll apply toward the luxuries in life will help you maintain a proper plan for spending the rest on paying down your debt or increasing your savings.