Millions of Americans will make their New Year’s resolutions very soon. Eat healthier. Exercise more frequently. Spend quality time with the family. Take better care of one’s finances.
Year after year, achieving financial health is ranked among the top five New Year’s resolutions. And it should be, according to Nicole Mayer, AIF® CDFA™ of RPG- Life Transition Specialists, a holistic wealth management firm, who says it’s truly never too late. “Financial health is an ongoing process,” says Mayer. “Even if you’ve been negligent in the past, making incremental changes could pay off in a big way.”
Tips for boosting your financial health
Nicole Mayer offers a few tips for how to get your finances on track in 2015.
- Determine your goals. Laying out your goals and writing them down is the first step to staying on the right financial track, says Mayer. “What’s most important to you,” she asks. “Whether it’s saving for your child’s college or funding your own retirement, those will require a different plan of attack. You have to articulate your goals in order to prioritize them.”
- Create a budget. And one that’s realistic and involves research. “Look at what you spent in all categories in 2014,” says Mayer. “Use that as your basis for your 2015 budget. And include everything. Wedding gifts, gas money, groceries, oil changes. Whatever is left over should go toward paying off debt, a savings account or some type of investment.”
- Consolidate loans. Consider taking advantage of low interest rates by refinancing your mortgage or consolidating your loans, Mayer advises. “Rates are as low as we’ve seen them, so if you’re planning to stay in your home for several years, take advantage of the extra savings. You’ll feel better about contributing that money to a 401(k).”
- Transfer high-interest balances. The New Year is a great time to take advantage of lower interest rate credit cards. “By transferring your balances to cards with zero percent for 12 months, you can save thousands of dollars in interest charges alone,” says Mayer. “And, if you can pay them off in full, even if you have a little less wiggle room, even better.”
- Keep calm, and save for retirement. It’s simple. You must save for retirement; there’s just no way around it. “If you think you’re going to rely on Medicare and social security, think again,” says Mayer. “You have to take ownership of your future. Nobody’s going to do it if you don’t. Make sure you’re maximizing your 401(k) contributions and setting money aside for a rainy day.”
The New Year can be a great excuse to step back, plan, and get your finances on track. If you follow these simple tips, you’ll begin to see the fruit of your labor this year! And it will be worth it!