New Year, Better Finances: 5 Resolutions for 2019
Every year, millions of people make New Year’s resolutions – whether it’s trying to lose weight, find a new job, reduce stress, and everything in between. One popular resolution is saving money, but this goal can be difficult to achieve. So, here are five, simple ways to start (and keep!) your financial resolution for 2019.
Create a budget with your goals in mind
Set a financial goal, and with that in mind, make a realistic budget that you’ll stick with throughout the year. If you’re not sure where to start, check out free financial wellness tools like BALANCE or GO Financial Education. Don’t forget to take advantage of budgeting tools. With apps like Mint and other online programs, budgeting has never been simpler! Or, if you like to keep things traditional, create a spreadsheet with all of your expenses and income, and lay out a plan so you’re able to put some cash back into a savings account. And speaking of savings…
Stop shopping, start saving
Since the holiday shopping season is over, it’s time to focus on savings. It’s extremely simple to set up an automatic transfer from your checking account to your savings using online banking. If you’re currently setting aside $20 each month, consider upping that amount by $10 (or whatever amount works for you). By saving $30 per month instead of $20, you’ll have an extra $120 by the end of the year. Odds are you’ll hardly miss that extra $10 per month.
Pick a weekly “no-spend” day
Start the new year with a new habit by committing to “no-spend” days. Once a week, try not to spend anything. Cook the food in your fridge or cupboard (get creative!), and make your morning latte at home with some steamed milk. If your no-spend day falls on a weekday, prepare breakfast and lunch the night before, wake up a few minutes early to make coffee, and cook for dinner later that night. Find some free entertainment by watching a movie or playing a board game with family and friends. It’ll be a fun reminder that you’ve kept a couple extra bucks in your pocket for the week.
Clean out your wallet
No, we’re not talking about the mess of receipts you may have stashed in your purse (we’re all guilty). Do you have more credit cards than you bargained for? Take a closer look – are you using all of your cards enough to warrant any annual fees or payments? If not, consider which ones are worth keeping, or if it’s time to upgrade to a credit card that better fits your needs. If you’ve opened up a store card for a couple of benefits here and there, but have to pay an annual fee or an insane interest rate, is it still worth it? Ask yourself these questions and lighten the load in your pocket by closing a few cards. (Heads up: if you’re concerned about your credit score, think before you close long-time cards. Length of credit plays a major role in your credit rating.)
New year, no debt
Saving money is key, but it’s hard to save when your money is going toward paying off debts. Make 2019 the year you take control of your debt. One option is to consolidate (or combine) multiple debts into one, which usually means a more favorable interest rate and payoff terms. Plus, you’ll have one payment versus many. Before consolidating your debts, do the math to make sure you’re getting a good deal and a manageable payment. Consolidation is best used with student loans and credit card debt, so see what works best for you. Keep in mind if you consolidate federal student loans, you may lose certain borrower benefits from your original loans, such as interest rate discounts.
Balance transfers are another option for managing and reducing credit card debt. Many cards offer balance transfer perks, such as reduced or no interest for a specified period of time. As long as you’re able to pay off the transferred balance in full within the timeframe, you’ll save money on interest and knock out your higher rate debt sooner.
What are your financial resolutions for 2019? Let us know in the comments!