We’ve all been guilty of setting New Year’s Resolutions—and then quickly forgetting them. Often, it’s because the goal was too big or too vague. So, let’s focus on the small and specific. What if you resolved to just do one thing each month to improve your finances? And what if by doing that one thing each month, you could make 2020 the year you get your finances in shape?
Your successful financial year begins here! Take an hour to develop a budget and build a spending plan. Then check your expenses against your budget each month to keep yourself on track. Even if this is the only thing you do in 2020, you’ll still be further ahead than most.
Check your credit using AnnualCreditReport.com. If you find errors, fix them now because bad credit will cost you all year long. Consider setting up fraud alerts or a credit freeze to protect yourself.
Just one mishap can set you back all year, so start saving now—even if it’s just a little each month. Set up automatic transfers so money goes into your emergency savings every time you get paid. Keep this account separate and promise yourself to leave it alone.
Use a qualified tax professional to make sure you’re taking full advantage of all the deductions available to you. If you get a tax refund, consider using most of it to pad your emergency savings fund or pay down debt.
Check to make sure you’re paying the maximum allowed towards retirement. If your employer matches contributions, take full advantage of their match, even if it feels like a stretch. That match is free money for your golden years!
Call your insurance broker to make sure you have the right insurance coverage. Ask about bundling your policies to save money, and make sure you’re taking advantage of all available discounts.
Take a bite out of your debt. Many people pay off the card with the highest interest rate, but others find it more inspiring to pay off smaller debts first. Do what works best for you. Also make sure you’re using a credit card with the lowest annual percentage rate available.
Verify the beneficiaries of all your financial accounts. Beneficiaries overrule a will, so as life changes (marriage, divorce, births, and deaths), make sure your beneficiaries reflect current wishes.
Choose one way to save and then stick with it for the month. Eat in instead of dining out, renegotiate your cable package, put your meal kit or other subscription service on hold, skip the fancy coffee and brew your own… then put the savings into your emergency fund or pay off a debt.
Remember the old rule to change the batteries in your smoke detector every October? Take the same approach to protect your identity. Review recent financial statements to make sure there has been no unauthorized activity, then change the passwords to your accounts.
Talk with a financial advisor to check your investments against your goals and revise your asset mix if needed. Audit your retirement accounts; as people change jobs, they sometimes fail to take their 401(k) or 403(b) money with them. Make things easier to track by rolling old accounts into a single IRA or Roth account.
Remember that budget from January? Check it again. If you’ve reduced your debt, increased your emergency savings, increased your retirement contributions, verified your insurance and investment strategy, and generally improved your financial affairs—congratulations! You made 2020 a financial success.
At Alaska USA, we can help you with every one of these steps. Call today, and we’ll help you get started. Happy New Year!
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