Nonprofit credit counseling agency Take Charge America offers eight
tips for making – and keeping – New Year’s financial resolutions
PHOENIX–(BUSINESS WIRE)–The New Year has become an opportunity to commit to new goals and
rekindle hope. In fact, 40 to 50 percent of New Year’s revelers raise a
toast to living better, healthier lives. Yet despite their optimism on
Jan. 1, the majority end up missing their marks.
“Many of us come out of the gate raring to go, but our enthusiasm
quickly dies because our goals are too lofty or because we haven’t
established any sort of plan,” said Mike Sullivan, a personal finance
consultant for Take Charge America, national
nonprofit credit counseling and debt management agency. “You’re more
likely to stick with your resolutions if you focus on bite-sized goals,
build a solid plan to achieve them, and celebrate each milestone.”
Sullivan offers eight tips on making and keeping financial New Year’s
Review the past year: Start with a review of your current
financial state. Did you earn more? Did you save more? Do you owe
less? If so, take some time to celebrate. If you didn’t, ask for help.
Talk with a financial advisor or credit counselor and explain your
Make a budget: It’s an oldie but a goodie – and it’s at the top
of every financial to-do list because it works. Take inventory of your
income and spending to get a sense of necessary expenses,
discretionary funds and potential savings. Putting pen to paper also
will open your eyes to any worrisome spending habits and help you make
smarter decisions in the future.
Automate and simplify: Take advantage of your bank’s bill pay
feature to automate recurring payments like your mortgage, insurance,
cable, utilities and even savings. In addition to saving you time each
month, setting up auto payments helps you avoid late fees.
Organize your finances: The New Year is a perfect time to get
your financial life in order. Establish a process and system for
paying bills, review your credit report for accuracy, research
financial software, set up auto deposits and shred old documents and
receipts. This is also an ideal time to gather and organize your tax
information for 2016.
Save for emergencies: If you don’t yet have an emergency fund,
now is the time to build one. Aim to save enough money to cover three
to six month’s expenses, but break this big goal down into smaller
milestones – and celebrate each time you reach one.
Pay down debt: This may seem overwhelming, especially if you
have multiple credit cards, student loans, car loans, etc. Start by
tackling the debt with the biggest interest rate, and move down the
list from there. If needed, enlist the help of a nonprofit credit
counseling or student loan counseling agency for one-on-one guidance,
an action plan and assistance negotiating with creditors.
Save for retirement: This is critically important to your
financial health, but far too few people are focused on saving for
their golden years. If you haven’t already done so, evaluate
employer-sponsored retirement savings plans, or talk to a financial
advisor about individual retirement accounts (IRAs). Commit to saving
every month – even if it’s a small amount – and work to increase your
contribution over time.
Make it a family affair: Don’t go it alone! Enlist the help of
family and friends to help you stay focused on your financial goals
and priorities. You can also aim to teach your kids a new financial
lesson each month, or create savings goals as family.
For more tips on financial resources, credit counseling and student loan
repayment, visit Take
About Take Charge America, Inc.
Founded in 1987, Take Charge America, Inc. is a nonprofit agency
offering financial education and counseling services including credit
counseling, debt management, student loan counseling, housing counseling
and bankruptcy counseling. It has helped more than 1.6 million consumers
nationwide manage their personal finances and debts. To learn more,
or call (888) 822-9193.
Andrea Aker, 602-339-7339