It is always the right time to make wise financial decisions. The new year is an excellent opportunity to implement new financial strategies, save more money, and grow your net worth.
- Pay yourself first.
Every time you receive money, whether that is a bi-weekly check from your employer, payment from a contract job, or any other income, put a portion of it into savings.
If you feel that you don’t make enough money to be able to save, whether you are barely scraping by or even if you are not paying your monthly credit card bills, save a portion of your income. Even if it is a small amount, it develops a good saving behavior and small amounts eventually add up.
- Go cold turkey on emotional spending.
Emotional spending is buying things you don’t need or maybe even don’t want in response to an emotional trigger, like having a stressful day at work or feeling bored. This is also known as “retail therapy.”
If you find Amazon Prime deliveries on your doorstep day after day, it may be time to delete the Amazon app from your phone. If you find your cart at Target overflowing with stuff you didn’t know you needed (because you don’t), it may be time to stick to a shopping list of true necessities.
If you are guilty of being an emotional spender: stop. Identify your triggers and redirect yourself. It may not be easy, but it will be worth it.
- Emergency savings is a must.
A large component to overall financial health is having adequate emergency savings, liquid and available to you if needed.
It is generally recommended to have at least 3 to 6-months of your total living expenses in emergency savings. If you are self-employed or your job is volatile, it’s best practice to have more in emergency savings.
- Cash is King.
Stop using credit and debit cards and use cash instead. It is far too easy to overspend when you’re swiping plastic, or inserting a chip as is now customary. Set your budget and figure out how much cash you need each week to cover your living expenses that are easily paid by cash, like gas, groceries, lunch, and the weekly latté luxury.
Handing over a $20 will make you think twice about an impulse buy. Using cash makes your expenses more real, and will help you spend less and better understand where you spend your money. It may also help you understand what expenses are important to you, and what things you can comfortably forego in the name of saving more.
Even living cash-based for a few weeks or months can make a profound difference in your spending habits.
- Create a budget, follow a budget.
This money tip sounds profoundly simple, but it is shocking how many people do not have a budget or do not stick to their budget.
When you stick to a budget you will know exactly how much you will save over the course of the year. You will be empowered to plan for future expenses, like a vacation or a down payment for a house. While a budget can be flexible, sticking to it more often than not paves the way for financial health.
- Source the deal.
Before making a purchase, shop around and find the best deal on the item. Check more than one store, compare online prices, check for coupons, voucher codes, and even Groupon or Overstock.
There are even search engine plug-ins and free apps that can help you find the best bargain.
- Be savvy about where you keep your savings.
Hold your savings in an interest-bearing account. When your money earns interest, then you are earning money on your money.
Interest-bearing savings accounts don’t typically offer high-interest rates anymore, so shop around for an option that will yield a higher return. A Certificate of Deposit (CD) may offer higher interest rates but also ties your money up for a prescribed timeframe. Money Market accounts typically offer more favorable interest rates than regular savings accounts but keep your money liquid.
Research the interest rates on savings accounts offered by the banks and local credit unions. Also, research other FDIC insured financial institutions. You may find that your credit card company, or other organization, offers higher-yield savings accounts, while still offering the safety of being FDIC insured.
Is it worth the effort to find an account with a higher interest rate? More free money is a good thing. If you go from a 1% annual interest rate to 2% on $50,000 in savings, your money will increase from earning $500 in interest to $1,000 in interest.
- Spend your money on what matters most to you.
You will feel more satisfied when you spend your money on what matters most to you.
And consider the value of spending your money on experiences instead of things. Research from San Francisco State University found those who spent money on experiences rather than material items felt their money was better spent and reported greater feelings of happiness.
- Hit the reset button.
Take the new year as an opportunity to review your overall financial health. Take a fresh look at your spending, savings, debt load, financial goals, and net worth. You may find a simple review of your finances paves the way for wiser financial choices.
It is always a good time to implement better personal financial management practices. We wish you a happy & healthy new year!
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