11 FINANCIAL TIPS FOR A PROSPEROUS NEW YEAR
As we approach New Year’s Eve, it is often a time of reflection. While we look back on the year that has passed and take stock of the things we have accomplished, it’s a good time to consider the goals we would like to achieve moving forward. This December, in preparation of turning the calendar to 2024, we can take steps to build on the things that are working well and make changes that can improve our lives. No matter what your personal resolutions include, a healthy financial foundation can be the perfect base from which to grow.
Here is a list of 11 helpful financial tips to get the new year off to a great start:
- Create or review your household budget. You can use pen and paper, a simple Excel spreadsheet, download a template or use a budgeting app. It doesn’t have to be complicated, but by gathering and understanding data about your income and expenses, you can keep track of where you are spending your money and adjust as necessary.
- Cancel unused services. Review your streaming services, digital memberships, and subscriptions to determine which you are actually using. Consider canceling those that you don’t use which are unnecessarily costing you money.
- Make sure your cash is working for you. As interest rates have increased, many money market funds are paying a competitive interest rate. Ensure that your cash is invested at an appropriate interest rate.
- Establish or replenish your emergency fund. Aim to set aside three to six months’ worth of essential living expenses in an emergency fund.
- Stay on guard for scams. Con artists are always active and looking for new situations to exploit. Awareness and caution are always your best defense.
- Check your credit. You might be vigilant about paying your bills on time and maintaining a low credit utilization level, but if your personal data is hacked and used without your knowledge, it can seriously affect your score. With three separate credit bureaus gathering information about you, there is also potential for errors or incorrect information to be included. By reviewing each of your reports, you can ensure they are accurate. You are allowed by law to see your information annually, for free, and this type of self-inquiry will not affect your credit scores.
- Review and update important documents and policies. Life changes over the course of a year may require updates to important items such as wills, health care proxies, beneficiary designations and insurance coverages.
- Update your passwords. The number of passwords and logins we all maintain seems to have multiplied, however vigilance is important here. Use a DIFFERENT password for each application you use. In the event an account is hacked, hackers have access to software that lets them see if you are using the same password for other applications and the potential for truly adverse consequences is real.
- Maintain a password book or utilize an online password manager. We know that we should never use the same password for multiple accounts, but when we have so many logins to manage, it can get overwhelming. Keep things simple by using a secure online password manager or by recording login information for all your accounts in a password book that remains safely stored.
- Activate Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA). MFA enhances your online security as it uses additional verification steps to confirm your identity, such as entering a temporary passcode or biometric verification (fingerprint or facial recognition). Passwords alone are more easily hacked but adding a 2nd factor provides you with significantly more security. Whenever offered, opt to enroll in MFA.
- Inventory your gift cards. The gift card market continues to grow, and it is estimated that 50% of Americans have unused gift cards. Maintaining a list of your gift cards and having a plan for when to use each helps to ensure they don’t get lost or forgotten.
Once you have set your New Year’s resolutions, periodically check back in on them to see if you are staying on track, or if you might benefit from recommitting to achieving your goals for a successful 2024. Please contact us if you’d like more information on any of these tips.