6 Ways to Freshen Up Your Finances This New Year


Do money problems have you stressed out? You’re not alone. Nearly three out of four Americans say their finances cause them stress at least once a month.

Stop the money madness. The following tips can help you set up an easy budget that simplifies your life and creates wealth you never knew you had. 

Be a goal setter. What are the top three things you want to do with your money? Write down your goals and post them in plain sight. Then review them regularly to be sure you’re headed in the right direction.

Track and trim spending habits. Keep tabs on your wallet for at least one month to see where your money is actually going. Can you get a better deal on cable or internet? Spend less on groceries? A money manager like mint.com can help you set up a budget, pay your bills, and even monitor your credit score. 

Ditch your credit card debt. Listen up. If your credit card has an interest rate of 16 percent, paying off that balance is like giving yourself a 16 percent tax-free return. What’s the best way to pay off multiple cards? Some experts say to pay off the card with the highest interest rate first, while others say start with the smallest balance. Pick a plan that works for you, and stick to it.

Set it and forget it. Stash away part of your income — some experts recommend at least 10 percent of each paycheck — into a savings account. Think of it as your cash cushion. Simply set up your accounts so the money is transferred automatically.

Save your raise. Congratulations! Your boss upped your pay. Don’t blow it all on the latest electronic gear. Instead, tuck it away in your savings account or 401(k). You won’t miss it, but it’ll be there when you need it. 

Live long and prosper in retirement. And while you’re at it, sock away some funds for when you retire. Researchers say you need to save about 15 percent of your paycheck to fund a comfy retirement. And make sure you put away enough to fully match your employer’s contribution. You don’t want to waste that free money.

If you’re looking for ways to boost your income this new year, be sure to turn to page 6 in The Retirement Survival Guidebook to learn how!


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  • FC&A Staff Writer