It’s a New Year and you have a clean slate. It’s time to set some financial resolutions for 2017.
It’s the New Year – a time to start over, to begin anew, to write on that clean slate. It’s another 365 days to get some slice of your life on the right track. Many people take this opportunity to make smart financial resolutions for 2017.
What are people resolving to change? Weight loss tops the list at 21%. Improved personal finance and exercise battle it out at for second place at 14%.1
While we’re not the authority on trimming your waistline, we do know something about firming up your finances. So, let’s talk about some changes you could make in 2017 that might improve your financial position.
1. Calculate Your Net Worth
It’s important to have a clear picture of your current spending and savings habits. Calculating your net worth helps create a realistic look at your finances and sets a baseline for making financial goals. Simply make a list of what you own and subtract what you owe to determine your personal net worth. Or, use this free tool. Once you determine this number, the resolutions you need to make will be clear. Ideally you should recalculate your net worth each year to measure your progress and make any necessary adjustments.
2. Create a Budget
It’s critical to know exactly where your money is going. Not in a penny-pinching way, but rather to gain a smart decision vs. wasteful spending perspective. Track your spending online using a budgeting tool that works for you. Add the money you’ll need for fixed monthly expenses, savings, and some discretionary income. Work hard to stay within those guidelines and don’t flex your budget beyond what you can afford.
Be sure to establish an emergency fund. If you don’t have one already, it should be your first savings priority. Plan to save three to six months of living expenses in a savings account or a money market fund. Only an unexpected financial event should serve as the reason for a withdrawal from this account.
3. Pay Down Your Credit Cards
If you’re carrying revolving debt on your credit cards, put together a plan to pay it off, or make a substantial dent, during 2017. Limit additional charges and tackle high interest cards first. You might even consider a debt consolidation loan, as long as you have an acceptable credit score. Reducing your debt not only improves your financial health, it might even improve your overall health. The burden of debt, the worry and stress that comes with it can be great. Debt is also an obstacle to other opportunities like travelling or potentially taking a new job. Don’t let your outstanding debt be the reason you can’t move on to bigger and better things.
4.Review Your Credit Report
Consumers are entitled to three free credit reports each year. There’s really no reason you shouldn’t take the time to review your financial history. This information, commonly reported incorrectly, can impact numerous areas of your life. It’s a reflection of your creditworthiness. Therefore, it can impact the interest rate you receive on a loan. It may also be the deciding factor when it comes to a job offer or a promotion. Inaccuracies should be corrected as soon as possible. Even the tiniest delinquency can be costly, so be sure to review it closely. Click here to request your free report.
5. Review Your Insurance Needs
As you move through life, your insurance coverage should be adjusted as necessary. Each year you should review your current life insurance coverage and compare it against any change in your family’s needs. You may also want to review your disability insurance coverage. Be sure to consult your insurance representative with any questions.
6. Earn More Money
Almost everyone wants to earn more money. If this is a serious goal of yours, you’ll need to assign yourself some concrete actions steps. What do you need to do to score that promotion? How do you network your way into the top marketing firm? Maybe you want to set up shop with your own new venture. Any one of these could potentially bring in some serious cash that can help you reach other financial goals. Stop procrastinating – 2017 is the year to make your move.
7. Set a Schedule to Review Your Finances
One of the most important financial resolutions you should make is to put your financial review on a schedule. Your finances will follow you throughout your entire lifetime and, at times, the picture won’t be perfect. You’ll need to make adjustments along the way. Some things, like your budget, you may want to review weekly. Other things you may choose to review monthly or quarterly. When you know where your money is going, it’s easier to consciously spend and save. More importantly, you’ll end up making better decisions. Start building those habits now.
The Bottom Line
Setting goals is the best way to achieve success, but be sure to make them realistic and attainable. Take this opportunity to set your financial resolutions, so you can get to work on building that action plan. Remember, though, when your finances are not where you want them to be, it can be frustrating. Mistakes will happen, but resolve to acknowledge the error, get back on track, and move forward. Make 2017 the year you took your resolution and turned it into an achievement.