A new year is right around the corner, bringing with it a fresh start for you and your finances. What will you do this year to help improve your financial situation?
Evaluate your savings goals. The beginning of the year is a great time to examine your overall financial plan. Maybe you want to buy a new vehicle this year or save money toward a Caribbean cruise next year. Perhaps you want to focus less on material items and more on long-term goals, such as your retirement savings. Regardless of what you are setting money aside for, make sure you come up with a realistic savings plan that will help you achieve your goals and avoid the risk of significant loss.
Pay down debt. Whether you owe money on your credit cards or have student loan payments to make, the start of a new year is a good time to develop a strategy to reduce your overall level of debt. Reducing your debt can help create opportunities to contribute toward other goals throughout the year. But unless you can definitely afford it, don't plan to pay off all your debts in one fell swoop. Set a smaller goal that you'll be more likely to achieve over the course of the year.
Automate as much as you can. Your plan to pay down debt can be accomplished more easily if you automate your bill paying, saving, and investing. Most banks, credit card issuers, retirement plan providers, and investment companies offer services that make payments automatic — allowing you to worry less about payment dates. The best part is that it might only take a few taps on your smartphone to make these processes automatic.
Think about organizing your financial documents. If your overall financial situation is already in good shape for the new year, consider taking time now to clear out and organize your financial records. Do you have important documents, such as your tax returns or passport, in a safe place? Are you holding on to records that you no longer need? Organizing your financial records now can save you time and frustration later if you need to locate a particular document.