With the year coming to an end, everyone is scrambling to lay out their budgets for the upcoming holidays and, of course, tax season. If you’re one of the millions of people who recently took on a new car loan, home loan, or credit expense in 2017, or even if you aren’t, there’s no better time to begin getting together your personal finances for the new year to come.
Tip #1 Manage Your Debt
It sounds simple on paper, but in practice, it’s one of those things that proves incredibly difficult for many people. Managing your debt is a matter of sitting down and looking at your income to expense ratio. If you have credit card bills stacked up, you need to consolidate and work to pay off the highest interest rate card first. For other debt, like loans, you should be making your minimum monthly payment on time—and then some, if you can. Leftover money should be divided as needed between other bills, and most importantly, you need to be putting away as much as possible into a savings account for each month.
Tip #2 Save What You Can
Even just $100 a month means you’ll have saved over $1200 by year-end. Set a do-able minimum goal that you can definitely meet every month. If possible, make it auto-draft out of your paycheck or bank account so you can’t “accidentally” spend it on something else. If you can make a higher deposit into your savings account one month, do so.
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Tip #3 Make Money An Open Discussion
A lot of families hide financial expenditures from one another, and that’s something spouses are notorious for doing. Make an effort to make money an open topic at your house, where you and your husband or wife feels comfortable talking about budgets and spending without getting into an argument over it. Being able to sit down, look at the facts, and talk things over calmly will make for a much healthier relationship and it will prevent surprises on your statements at the end of the month.
Tip #4 Think About Your Future
Your retirement is a big topic, and it’s something you have to be thinking about and working for constantly. If you can make an employee contribution to your retirement account, that is a fantastic way to contribute to your future well-being. You can also look through your employee handbook because many companies will match employee contributions up to a certain amount—that essentially means you can double your investment.
Additionally, you should also think about the future of your children. If you don’t have a savings account or college fund going yet, setting up a savings account in their name and investing even just a bit into each month will truly add up as they continue to grow. You can also use it as an opportunity to teach them about the importance of money and saving it.