Budgets and Money

19 in ’19 – for a Financially Fit 2019

Making resolutions is as much a part of New Year's as champagne and “Auld Lang Syne." For 2019, why not try something different by replacing that all-too-familiar promise to trim the waistline with a commitment to get your bottom line in shape. Here are 19 ideas for a financially fit 2019.

1. Sit Down with a Financial Advisor.

Do you remember when you were young and would just close your eyes really tight so you could ignore something bad until it went away? That approach doesn't work as a grown-up. Open your eyes and let 2019 be the year you sit down with a financial professional to get a detailed overview of your entire financial situation and what can be done to improve it.

2. Life Insurance.

Protecting those you love is an integral part of a responsible financial plan. Consider getting a life insurance policy if you don't already have one or make sure your policy meets your current needs and that your beneficiaries are up to date.

3. Revisit Your Will.

As we grow older, our finances, assets and even our friends can change. It's a good idea to review your will and ensure it reflects your present life situation.

4. Draft a Retirement Plan.

It doesn't matter what age you are now, you're never too young or too old to start planning. There are many vehicles to help achieve a successful retirement, like 401(k)s and annuities, so take the time to familiarize yourself with your options and evaluate which ones are right for you.

5. Get Serious about Budget Planning.

Studies have repeatedly shown that those who make actual written budgets with spending parameters (rather than just vague guidelines) that correspond realistically to their income are more likely to stick to spending limits.

6. Use a Budget Helper.

Budgeting's hard so get help; there are a variety of paid (like Mint) and free (BudgetTracker) budgeting management tools.

7. Make Your Phone Your Financial Friend.

There are hundreds of easy to use mobile apps that help you manage your spending. YNAB is a popular example.

8. Cut Food Cost with Coupons.

That's why scissors were invented!

9. Limit eating out.

You've heard it before but all those daily coffees/muffins/pizza slices really do add up. Brown bagging your work lunch and eating at home can save you more than $2,000 a year.

10. Power Down.

Utility costs can take a chunk out of your income. Little things like switching to LED bulbs, changing the furnace filter and getting a programmable thermostat can add up to significant savings.

11. Work on that Nest Egg.

Most of us have a big-ticket item we've been dreaming of saving up for. Well stop dreaming and start doing. Whether you want to save for a house, a car or a trip to Europe, one of the easiest ways to save is via an automatic savings plan. Speak to your bank about having a portion of every paycheck automatically moved into a savings account. You'll be surprised how quickly-and painlessly-automatic savings can grow.

12. Set Up an Emergency Fund.

An emergency fund is just as important as having a nest egg. Use an automatic savings plan to help establish a financial safety net.

13. Know Your Credit Rating.

Your credit rating can have huge consequences on your ability to get a loan or a mortgage. Find out your number and, if necessary, speak to a financial professional about how to improve it.

14. Review Interest Rates.

Go over your credit cards' fees and interest rates and see if you can transfer debt to the one with a better rate and terms.

15. Reward Yourself.

Don't just stick with the same credit card you've been using for years. There are always new offers coming up and many attractive no-fee, cash-back reward credit cards are on the market.

16. Trade Your Clutter for Cash.

Remember when you were going to learn to ski? We all have valuable stuff languishing in the basement. Gather it up and sell it online or have a garage sale.

17. Free Yourself of Fees.

Some bank, ATM and credit card fees can be avoided with a bit of basic planning. Track your fee charges for a month and see if you can switch to no-fee or low-fee accounts.

18. Revisit your 401(k) and Forget It.

Make sure you are contributing enough for an employer match and increase your contribution a percentage or two. Once you have your contribution levels where they need to be, try to forget about your 401(k), meaning borrowing from your 401(k) should be a last resort.

19. Educate Yourself.

If you're not financially savvy, up your acumen slowly by reading as little as one article a week in the business section of a newspaper or a money saving blog.

 

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