Are you among the majority of Americans who couldn’t wait to say goodbye – and good riddance! – to 2020? Turning the calendar to 2021 is a symbolic fresh start and appealing opportunity to reflect on the past year and begin planning for the next 12 months.
Does your list of New Year’s resolutions include financial objectives? Maybe you want to budget for a house, buy a new car or pay down your credit card debt. If so, you’re in good company. One-in-three Americans lists spending less and budgeting more as a top goal for the New Year.
Sadly though, 80 percent of New Year’s resolutions fail by February, according to Forbes. The reasons? Setting goals that are too ambitious or making too many. Don’t be that person.
“It can be daunting when your list of New Year’s resolutions is as long as your holiday shopping list,” explains the American Psychological Association. “Setting small, attainable goals throughout the year, instead of a singular, overwhelming goal on January 1 can help you reach whatever it is you strive for.”
Small, incremental changes may not feel as ambitious, but they have a much greater chance of success. Consider setting monthly financial goals; here are some ideas.
Automate your budgeting. Most direct deposit programs will let you to split your pay check among different accounts. Set up a saving account that is not tied to your checking account and deposit a nominal amount from each paycheck. Say you spend $20 a week on extra-fancy lattes. Direct deposit that same amount into a dedicated saving account and you’ll have $1,040 plus interest by the end of the year.
Did you get a raise in January? Consider making a maximum lump-sum retirement plan contribution or increasing your 401(k) contribution.
Set a monthly budget. Bankrate suggests tracking every single penny you spend for one month. You’ll learn exactly where your paycheck is going and where you’re overspending. Once you know your spending habits, create a realistic budget. You don’t have to cut out all of the fun stuff, but you do need to pay your bills on time and eventually meet your budgeting goal.
It’s only three months into the year and already your financial resolutions are proving hard to keep. How can you budget when you’re living paycheck-to-paycheck? Will you ever be able to buy a home?
April is Financial Literacy Month. It’s designed to educate consumers about how to manage money wisely and provide useful lessons about budgeting, investing and using credit. Find inspiration to keep working toward your 2018 personal finance goals with these three smart money tips.
Are you expecting a tax refund? When it arrives, treat yourself to dinner and a movie, and then use the rest to pay down your debt or purchase a Certificate of Deposit (CD)
While cutting out those indulgent lattes won’t make you rich, smarter financial decisions truly do add up over time. Here are four easy ways to stop nickel-and-diming yourself and think about what spending you can eliminate.
Make biweekly loan payments. This strategy can shorten the term of your auto or student loan and potentially reduce costly interest. Find out just how much with this free biweekly calculator.
How does it work? Standard loans require you to make one payment every month. Instead, divide your monthly payment in half and pay that amount every two weeks on a date that coincides with when you get paid. Because there are 52 weeks in a year, you’re making 26 annual biweekly payments (the equivalent of 13 monthly payments). The payment amount is the same each month, however, the one extra payment a year can reduce your interest significantly over the life of a loan.
You can try to do it yourself, but it is often difficult to navigate a biweekly loan payoff strategy. Third-party loan processors like AutoPayPlus can help, offering borrowers the convenience and confidence that their biweekly payments are made on-time and applied correctly.
Sign up for free customer loyalty programs with the retailers and businesses you use regularly to receive discounts and other rewards. Set up an email address to use exclusively for these rewards programs so they don’t clutter or get lost in your regular email. If you have a smartphone, consider using Stocard or your Apple Wallet to combine all of your rewards cards onto your phone.
According to Kelley Blue Book®, Labor Day is a big weekend for car-shopping because of dealer incentives. If you are thinking about buying a new car or trading in your old one, this could be a good time to do so.
October can be a scary month for your budget. Last year, the average America said they planned to spend up to $92.12 on Halloween festivities. Instead of expensive store-bought costumes, candy and home decorations, check out Pinterest for a frightening number of DIY options.
Know when the open enrollment period begins and ends for your employee benefits. Did you take advantage of all of the benefits you paid for this year? If not, consider making a change.
You’ve made it this far. Don’t let the most wonderful time of the year derail all of your hard work! With proper budgeting and foresight, your December gift giving will be a breeze!