It’s that time of year when many people set goals in the hope of changing their lives in the year to come. Whatever your plans, you may want to add a few small financial changes to your resolution list to help you turn 2012 into an even better year.
Pay down debt
As you start the year, make a plan to pay off debts with the highest interest rates first. Also, it’s always wise to pay more than the minimum payment, so if you’re financially able to pay a bit more, do so. You’ll pay off your debt faster and save more on interest in the long run.
Increase your savings
Set a goal; perhaps you’d like to save for a dream vacation, a down payment for a new home, or an emergency fund to cover the unexpected. Then, establish a timeline for accomplishing the goal and outline a strategy for reaching it. You’ll find the results easier to achieve.
Develop a budget
When developing your new “budget,” it may help you to think of it as a spending plan instead. By planning out your food, entertainment, education, and other expenditures, you’ll have a better understanding of where you’re allocating your income and how much is available to spend on each activity.
Review your credit report
You are entitled to one free report a year from each of the three major credit-reporting agencies—Equifax, Transunion, and Experian. Use a website such as www.annualcreditreport.com to request your reports at the beginning of the year (or request one at a time throughout the year). This way, you can file disputes regarding any erroneous information, as well as evaluate how you might increase your overall credit health during the year.
Protect your identity
Protecting your identity can be as simple as monitoring your financial and online accounts. Here are a few tips:
- Review your monthly statements for any suspicious activity.
- Avoid using your social security number whenever possible.
- Be sure that you are on a secure website—the URL will begin with https—before you submit personal information online.
- Be wary of opening suspicious e-mails—and don’t click on any attachments.
Start a college fund
The sooner you can begin putting money away, the better off you’ll be. There are multiple investment tools that can help you develop an effective college savings plan. Work with your financial advisor to evaluate your unique situation and the best option for pursuing your goals.
Assess life changes
Embarking on new career, welcoming a new baby to the family, purchasing a new property, or even just getting one year closer to retirement may all require you to revisit your financial plan and long-term goals. It’s a good idea to review your insurance coverage, retirement plan, will, and estate plan annually to assure that all aspects of your life are incorporated.
Further your financial knowledge
There are a number of websites, TV shows, and books available that can offer insight into this industry and its ever-changing nature. Be sure to reach out to your financial advisor if you find a topic you would like to learn more about. This will not only provide you with a deeper understanding of your investments and other financial matters, but it also will allow you and your advisor to improve your financial goals through communication on topics that interest you.
These are just a few resolutions that can help improve your overall financial health. What’s our resolution for 2012? Continuing to help individuals and families pursue their financial goals well into the future. If you’re interested in learning how we can help you, resolve to contact us today. Best wishes and Happy New Year!