Six ways to find financial success in 2016
WASHINGTON (1/5/16)—Almost 45% of Americans make New Year’s resolutions each January, but only about 8% of people keep them. Money-related resolutions are among the most popular (WalletHub Dec. 30).
These suggestions can help you find financial success in 2016:
- Put your money on autopilot--Set up direct deposit, authorize electronic payments, and automate routine savings. Streamlining your finances with online tools is about more than just saving time--it's fun, helps you avoid late fees and overdraft fees, and helps you save money.
- Create a spending plan--Only about 40% of adults have a budget, according to the National Foundation for Credit Counseling. Create a plan by comparing expenses to monthly take-home pay. Look for spending leaks and make adjustments where necessary.
- Build an emergency fund--Fifty-six percent of Americans don’t have a rainy day fund. Strive to save three to eight months of income and increase savings from there. Setting up an automatic transfer from checking to savings can help you build this fund.
- Increase your credit score--Pay all bills on time, every time; keep a low utilization ratio; don’t open a flurry of new accounts in a short time period; don’t close existing credit; and pay your fines. Whether it's a parking ticket or a library fine, pay up. If debts are reported to a credit reporting agency, they can knock down your credit score.
- Request your credit report--Routinely checking your credit report can keep you informed of your credit score and of fraudulent activity on your accounts. Request one free credit report a year from each of the three major credit reporting bureaus by visiting annualcreditreport.com, the only website authorized to provide free reports. You also can call 877-322-8228 or complete the Annual Credit Report Request Form and mail it to Annual Credit Report Request Service, P.O. Box 105281, Atlanta, GA, 30348-5281.
- Beef up retirement funds--Make regular contributions to a retirement savings plan such as a 401(k) or IRA. If your company offers a 401(k) plan, contribute at least enough to meet the company match. If you don’t it’s like leaving free money on the table. Also consider opening an IRA at your credit union.
For related information, read “Put Your Money on Autopilot” in the Home & Family Finance Resource Center.