Don’t Be Dumb with Your Money—Start the New Year off Right!

Each month we reach out to various financial bloggers to get their take on relevant financial questions. This month we asked,

“What three things do you recommend that readers do to start the New Year off right in terms of their finances?”

Shane @ Beating Broke

1.    Get a credit check-up. If you haven’t gotten your free credit report, do so. There are three credit bureaus, so you can easily get a free credit report from one of each every 4 months or so.  Double check it for any discrepancies or anything that looks funny.  Especially, accounts that you don’t actually remember opening.

2.    Get a plan. It’s the time of the year when everyone is making resolutions for the New Year. Saying you’ll do something, and having a plan to do that same thing are two entirely different things. Make a plan to get control of your finances and pay off your debt.

3.    Get tools. A budget, an app on your phone, a website, etc. They’re all tools to help you get your finances under control and headed in the right direction.

Crystal @ Budgeting in the Fun Stuff

I always first suggest making a realistic budget that takes into account all expenses and savings goals. If they already know the basics, the beginning of the year is a good time to make sure that the previous year’s Roth IRA’s have been maxed out and to make goals for the coming months.

Beverly @ Beverly Harzog

1.    It’s a very good idea to check your annual credit reports if you haven’t done so in a while. You’re entitled to a free credit report from each of the three major credit bureaus every 12 months. You want to look for any errors that can drag down your credit score. You also want to make sure there are no signs of fraudulent activity.

2.    Decide what your financial goals are for the year. For instance, if you’re in credit card debt, decide what steps you’ll take to get out of debt.

3.    Set up a way to track your spending on credit cards. Don’t rely on your memory or you’ll spend more than you intended to, which can lead to debt.

J. Money @ Budgets Are Sexy

1.    Pick ONE thing to really work on, whether it’s less debt, less expenses, more income/whatever, and then focus on that. Whenever you try and do a whole bunch at once, you typically burn out faster. So, choose your favorite and then roll with it!

2.    Rolling with it = Coming up with a game plan. Once you figure out what goal you want to take on, jot down REAL, actionable, steps you can do to achieve it. Not just, “Oh, I’ll save more this year to hit $XXXXX by the end,” or “I want to cut my debt in half” and then not every change your habits. To be successful in anything you do, you have to make sure your habits are inline and working each and every week *towards* these goals of yours. Or else it’s just a bunch of hot air with no way to win.

3.    Reward yourself after hitting each milestone 🙂 It doesn’t matter if it’s once a month, or twice this year/etc, whenever you accomplish any of these small wins (which will eventually turn into the BIG win at the end!) pause for a second and congratulate yourself. We’re also so rush-rush-rush around our lives that we rarely stop to pat ourselves on the back for things. So, treat yourself to a (non expensive!) goody as you work your way to the top this year – you’ll deserve it!

What About You?

What do you think? What are your financial resolutions for 2013?

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  • Our financial goal for this year is to get my girlfriend’s student loan debt paid off (or at least have enough money to pay it off!)

  • great goal.. I’m curious.. What’s the interest rate?

  • I agree, especially with making a plan. We all make resolutions, and most of those we never ‘plan’ to keep. If you want change, you have to do something about it.

  • Leslie /

    In Canada we have Tax Free Savings Accounts (TFSA) that you can put up to $5000 in each year. If you don’t put all $5000 in one year, you can carry forward the difference to the following year. Example if I only put in $2500 last year I could put in $7500 this year. This is the 4th year this has been available and they have increased the amount to $5500. I haven’t maxed out every year, so I want to play “catch up” this year. The other nice thing about this type of account is that you can invest the money in stocks and whatever you end up making is also tax free.

  • the TFSA is awesome.. In the USA we can only make catchup contribution at the age of 55 and beyond. I wish our retirement accounts allowed any and everyone make catch up contribution like you can do in Canada. I take it the TFSA you put the money in after paying taxes, is that why the distributions are tax free?

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