New Year’s Financial Suggestions for 2011

Make a Budget: Sit down and write out a budget for yourself. Look at your income and expenses and put down on paper exactly how you are going to manage your finances. This is the first step in money management. This budget will provide you with a plan on how you want to finish the year financially. Look at your expenses and determine what you can cut back on or eliminate. In your budget, include a line item for savings. Every month or pay period, make it a point to put money away in a savings account. It does not have to be a lot of money, but it is important that you begin to put money away.

Pay down or eliminate debt: If you owe money on credit cards or through other types of credit, a good strategy is to pay these down or off. Many credit card companies have extremely high interest rates and your hard earned money is going towards paying interest. Make an effort to pay these down or off in 2011. Start with the credit balances with the highest interest rates and finish paying those off. When those are done, move to the next set of cards. If you have a car payment with a high interest rate, consider either re-financing to a lower interest rate (make sure the overall long-term costs work out lower and there are no hidden costs) or make extra payments to pay these balances off sooner.

Build up a Savings Account Reserve: Having a savings account with a reserve for an emergency is very important. It gives you peace of mind and will help you get through a hard time should that come about. Every month, put money away automatically from your paycheck into a savings account. If you don’t see it, you will not miss it. Put in an amount you won’t miss, like $25 to $50 per pay period. And, leave this money alone. To accelerate your savings, before buying anything, a beer, a dinner out or a cup of coffee ask yourself “do I really need this?” If the answer is no, then don’t make the purchase and take that money that you were going to spend on that item and put it into the savings account as well. Even if you are able to save an extra $1.50 a day, this amount would be $45 per month and more than $500 for the year on top of your other savings.

Take care of your health: Taking care of your health will save you money. Getting proper sleep and spending more time at home resting is always less expensive while helping you stay strong. Going for walks in the park or on the beach or a busy street is a healthy thing to do and does not cost money. Eating good food that you prepare at home and take to work is always healthier than eating fast food and is most often less expensive than eating out. When you take care of your health, including your mental health, you are more likely to do better at work or school. Healthy people miss less work and are more focused. They often move up the ladder to opportunities that others miss.

Good luck with these suggestions and we hope that some of these work for you.