1. Pay down your credit card balances. Before you begin to save money, you should attack your credit card debt. The interest you pay on your credit cards likely outstrips what you earn with your investments. Pay off your debt now and invest later.
2. Open an emergency fund savings account. As soon as you are able to do so, open an emergency fund savings account. Use this fund to cover expenses not paid for elsewhere such as a medical bill. If you lose your job, tap the fund to help pay for living expenses.
3. Contribute to an IRA. Money that you contribute to your retirement account is money that won’t be taxed until it is withdrawn. You can contribute up to $5,000 per year; $6,000 annually if you are at least 50.
4. Know your credit score. Your credit score is golden — it opens and shuts doors, but do you know what it is? Visit MyFico.com to learn what your credit score is and what that score means.
5. Review your credit reports. Visit AnnualCreditReport.com and obtain copies of all three of your credit reports for free. Examine each report closely to ensure that the information about you is correct. If there are accounts ascribed to your name that do not belong to you, notify the respective credit bureau. Your credit reports correlate with your credit scores.
6. Consider refinancing your home. If you haven’t refinanced your home in years, consider doing so this year. You may be able to shave a few years off of your loan or tap some of its equity to pay for repairs and updates.
7. Set up a budget. If you haven’t established a budget, do so this year. You’ll get a much better handle on how to manage your finances. Learn where the money is going and how to cut your expenses.
8. Search for college scholarships. If you attend college, look for ways to cut your costs. Grants and scholarships are monies that are not paid back. Search for college scholarships and apply for one or more today.
9. Consider new investments. You have a savings account and a retirement account. You may own a home. What you may have not done is invested in the stock market, bought precious metals, or invested in commercial real estate. If you are a novice in this arena, contact a financial advisor for guidance.
10. Shop carefully for a new car. You can save thousands of dollars off of the sticker price of a new car by shopping around. Use the Internet to learn the real price to pay for a new car and negotiate accordingly. Sell your current car privately to get more money for it.
11. Plan your next vacation. Do you budget for a vacation? If not, begin now to plan your summer vacation. Determine how much you will spend for your vacation and divide that amount by 52 to figure out how much you need to save each week.
12. Contribute to your favorite charities. Giving to others is good, plain and simple. It can also be a tax break when funds or goods are contributed to a qualifying charity. You can search for eligible charities on the IRS website.
13. Open a Christmas account. You just spent hundreds perhaps well over a thousand dollars on Christmas this year. Certainly, you may be able to cut back on your expenses in future years. Just as easily you can set aside money weekly toward Christmas and pay for everything with cash next year.
14. Review your insurance coverage. Review your insurance coverage for the new year: auto, home, health, dental, life insurance and more. Make sure that the coverage you have now is sufficient. Make adjustments as necessary.
15. Meet with your tax advisor. Before you do you taxes meet with your tax advisor. He or she may encourage you to make certain changes to your taxes including withholdings, retirements contributions, savings, and donations.
A New Year
The new year brings with it many possibilities. Take advantage of the calendar change to plan for a better year, a profitable one at that.
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