Making a New Year’s resolution is very easy. The end of the year approaches and everyone becomes motivated and excited about the things they’ll do or the things they’ll stop doing once another year becomes history.
However, while intentions are usually good, many resolutions tend to fall to the wayside early on. Brand new gym memberships go unused, homes are still unorganized, and the healthy recipes seem like too much trouble. However, if you’ve made a commitment to get better control of your finances in 2016 you may want focus on that resolution.
Learning more about your finances and how to better stay in control of them are always worthwhile endeavors. Additionally, personal finance is not as difficult as some may think it is. It all begins with some conscious choices, a little research, and a few simple changes like the ones listed below to dramatically improve your finances in 2016.
1. Create a Master List of All Expenses
All good things begin with the right plan and your financial makeover is no exception. Begin by gathering all of your bills and creating a visual picture of all of your monthly expenses. Each and every expense needs to be represented, from your rent to your food and entertainment dollars. If you aren’t already, track your expenses through your bank’s mobile app. Even charges that feel insignificant in the moment, like a daily latte, can end up as significant expenses over the course of time.
Once you’ve cataloged all of your monthly bills and expenses it’s time to get your plan underway.
2. Establish a Savings Plan
Most financial experts agree that it’s always a smart move to pay yourself first, but many people have little or no savings to speak of. One of the best ways that you can begin to bolster your financial life is by setting up a savings plan.
Set up a monthly direct deposit from your paycheck to a savings account. Even if you start small you’ll be surprised how quickly that money can add up, and how you’ll feel more inclined to increase the amount you save. Once you’ve established your savings account you can then count on that money for an emergency or to fund a major, planned expense.
3. Control Your Cards
Credit cards are wonderful things to have. Not only does their proper use help to bolster your credit score, but most come with attractive rewards and incentives. One of these incentives is the zero interest balance transfer that is offered by many banks and credit card companies.
By taking advantage of a balance transfer credit card you can eliminate interest charges for up to 36 months in some cases. This should give you ample time to pay your balance off completely. Be certain that you research these card offers carefully, however. Some may charge an annual fee, but you may be able to have that waived by speaking directly with the company.
Some may think that the stock market is only for the wealthy, but that’s absolutely not the case. While it can seem daunting, smart stock purchases can net you a tidy profit, even if your initial investment is not great.
If you’ve already set up an investment account of some type it’s wise to chat with your advisor. He or she can tell you where your money is, how well it’s performing, and whether you should consider any changes to your portfolio.
5. Buy Life Insurance
The new year is the perfect time to assess or reassess your insurance needs. At the very least, if your family has undergone a major change in the last year due to a birth, marriage, or other event, it’s time to update your insurance amounts and beneficiaries.
If you’re new to the insurance game, check with the agent that handles your car, renters, or homeowners insurance. They can easily help you understand more about life insurance and which policies might be best for you.
Keeping a New Year’s resolution may be difficult, but if that resolution is related to your finances it’s the best one to keep. Follow these tips and you’ll see big results by the beginning of 2017.