Taking the time to review end-of-year financial health should be on everyone’s resolutions list.
Casting a critical eye over day-to-day spending habits not only highlights areas for improvement but helps us strive towards long-term goals such as saving and investing. By recognizing bad or frivolous spending habits we can start to implement the changes needed to maximize our money’s reach and impact.
Here are 6 personal finance tips for starting 2018 strong:
1) Review your money habits. As Benjamin Franklin said, “Watch the pennies and the dollars will take care of themselves.” You could easily start with a spending reality check. Examine your bank statements and receipts for the last 12 months. You could record the results in this handy spreadsheet created by the Wall Street Journal, or why not create your own? Can you identify the key places your money went and is there room for improvement? Perhaps Amazon Prime splurges are hindering your aspirations for a better apartment, or could you curb a night out or two to invest in your future?
Take a look at Goodbudget.com, a digital version of the envelope budgeting system favored by our grandparents’ generation. The platform allows you to enter the amount of money you wish to allocate each month to things like rent, groceries, eating out, and saving. It then offsets those expenses against the amount of money you earn. Then there are apps such as Digit that put aside small amounts of money on a regular basis to help you save.
2) Curb your holiday gift spending. Tis the season to be generous, but lavish holiday purchases could ultimately affect whether you enter the New Year feeling prosperous or cash-strapped. Holiday gifts don’t need to be costly or elaborate, in fact, heartfelt presents often mean more. If you’re concerned about sustainability, could you save money, and the earth’s resources, by crafting eco-friendly homemade gifts?
3) Rethink your luxuries. Cutting back on indulgences doesn’t have to result in a dramatic lifestyle change. Instead of blowing your budget on expensive classes like SoulCycle could you download a training app instead? Check out the Meet Up network for fitness groups in your area that offer free or low-cost classes. You could also consider joining an organization like the Sierra Club and take advantage of their outdoor hikes. A meal delivery service is a nice luxury, but a new habit of creating your own meal plan each week would reclaim those dollars for something more important.
4) Think about investing. Once you’ve set a budget, cut back on unnecessary expenses, and started to save, it could be time to invest. Your first step is to consider the Personal Finance Waterfall to make sure you will not be overstretched financially. If you still have a healthy amount to invest, don’t let it stagnate in a low-interest savings account. OpenInvest’s ethical investment platform offers a great opportunity to watch your money grow over time while making decisions about which companies or sectors to back. All you need to do is sign up and tell us what you care about.
5) Review your investment advisor. Do you really need a human financial advisor? Are you paying too much? Money managers typically charge a significant percentage of assets or returns (1% or more annually) for their services, which can add up to hundreds of thousands of dollars over the course of your lifetime. Even worse, some unscrupulous advisors may place your money into underperforming funds from which they receive commissions. To the contrary, OpenInvest works at a lower cost and is more straightforward with fees, charging a single, transparent fee of .50% annually, while providing the customization and ethical strategy to put your money where your morals are.
6) Streamline your debt. It’s never fun to review the amount you have accrued on credit cards or in loans but facing up to the reality of everything you owe, and making a plan to reduce it, is essential. High-interest rate debt, like credit card bills, should go first. Include a monthly repayment plan in your budget for the year and stick to it. Once you have that under control, you can tackle lower interest debt. Having a firm grasp of your finances – and a plan to improve them – will help you enter 2018 feeling empowered and ready to make your money work for you.
Need more info? We’d love to chat with you about any questions or concern you have about investing. You can email us 24/7 at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us during normal business hours via 1-855-466-6545