“Pay off debt” and “save more money” are consistently among the top five financial resolutions made every New Year’s Eve, but you don’t have to wait to begin improving your personal financial picture. Most resolutions are far too general in scope anyway so here are a few ways to specifically plan for a better financial future – starting any month.
Summertime is a great time to complete home improvement projects around the house. Or, consider refinancing your existing mortgage at a lower rate (I recently did). Add your monthly savings to a savings account or use them to build your emergency fund.
August is well known as “back to school” time, but let’s plan beyond that. If you’ve got older kids at home, consider giving them a school clothing budget – loaded on a prepaid debit card. Make them choose between that trendy T-shirt and those must-have – but very expensive shoes or jeans. Kids learn a lot about finance and economics when THEY have to make the choices.
Do you have a child going to college this year? Help them start their financial life with a prepaid MasterCard rather than a regular credit card. They’re easy to use, but unlike a typical card, your student can only spend what they have. It gives the financial independence of a credit card, but without the risk of debt.
Got too much credit card debt? Outline a plan to get it paid off. Whether it takes three months or three years, you’ll feel great when you rid yourself of that burden.
Save a trip to the mall by giving gifts that send a financially positive message. Give the kids in your family a high yield savings account. Open it early in November and by year-end, they should be able to see some interest accrue. It’s a gift that keeps on giving!
Daydreaming about your summer vacation from under a blanket of snow? Start your vacation fund this month by putting aside a lump sum every month so you can take that cruise to Alaska in July – but without debt. Need ideas on where to find the cash? Check out my 17 Sneaky Savings Strategies.
Go ahead. Make that financial New Year’s Resolution. Take stock of your finances, from the cost of life insurance and car insurance to the yield on your savings account and which online broker you use.
Tax time is the perfect time to take a big picture look at your finances. A tax professional can turn tax time into a bigger, more important discussion about retirement, your investments, and savings. Be sure to visit your tax professional with written questions in hand.
If you find that you owe taxes this year, consider reducing your tax liability with a traditional IRA. IRAs can lower your tax liability and help you save for the future. Ask your tax professional.
Take a look at your current deductions to see where you can reduce that tax bill next year.
Each spring, “Home For Sale” signs emerge like daffodils. If you’re in the home buying or selling market, do your homework and shop for mortgage rates with the same passion you’re shopping for a home.
June is the perfect month for a mid-year financial tune up. What interest are you earning in your savings account? Do you need to sock more away for retirement? How’s that debt reduction plan coming along?
Each year we all make resolutions and think we’re “starting fresh.” A clean slate IS a thing of beauty, but the truth is that we can wipe our slate clean anytime during the year and there’s no time like the present.