As we count down to the end of 2009, it’s a good time to reflect back on the year and think about all the things you’d like to do better or differently in 2010.
Making a decision to change is just the first step, however. If you want to see results, you have to know what moves to make to ensure those changes actually happen. After all, saying, “I’d like to lose 10 pounds,” doesn’t mean much if you don’t learn how to eat healthier and establish a new workout routine.
As part of your planning for 2010, consider taking action to improve your personal finances. With the economy beginning to regain its footing, there’s no time like the present to add some dollars to your bottom line. To get started, here are 10 goals for 2010, plus tips on how to achieve them:
1) Stop overspending.
Credit cards are super convenient, but their ease of use can also lead you to overspend. Need a trick to help you stop the credit card madness? Freeze your credit card. That’s right. Try dropping your card in a plastic bag, add water and stick the baggy in the freezer. You’ll still have access to it if you need it, but having to wait until your card thaws will give you some time to get over the impulse of buying things you don’t need.
2) Stick to a budget.
You should know exactly where your money’s going and where you might make improvements. With all the free budgeting tools available online, it’s simple to get started. What’s not so simple for some? Sticking with it. But if you want to break out of the cycle of living paycheck-to-paycheck and learn how to spend within your means, keeping a budget is a smart first step.
Schedule “bill time” in your calendar at least monthly to evaluate your budget, pay your bills and figure out if there are places you can cut costs.
3) Pay off debt.
There are many strategies out there to help you make a dent in your debt. You can start by paying down the debt that has the highest interest rate first and then work your way down the ladder. Just make sure you’re still making at least the minimum payments on your other credit cards and loans.
Or if you feel like you need to experience small wins along the way to keep you motivated, the Debt Snowball might be the way to go. What’s important isn’t what method you use, rather that you get started… now.
4) Manage your credit.
Your credit is more important than ever — it’s absolutely key to unlocking the best interest rates and terms for credit cards, home loans and auto loans. Heck, forget the rates – If you have bad credit, you may not be able to qualify for credit at all in this economy.
The first step to managing your credit is to check your credit report at least every six months to make sure what’s there is accurate. Staying on top of your credit doesn’t have to cost you a thing either. Sites like Quizzle.com will give you a free credit report, no strings attached. Quizzle will even kick in a free credit score so you can make sense of what’s on your report.
5) Improve your credit score.
If you’re managing your credit properly (see #4), you’ll know whether you could stand to improve your credit score. It’s important to make strides to improve your credit score before you need to, because boosting your score takes time. There are a lot of basic steps to improve your credit, but if you need personalized, step-by-step instructions on what to do, there are handy credit improvement tools available on the web to help.
6) Pay yourself first.
Save, save, save! Paying yourself first simply means that you need to save before you spend. The best way to do this is by setting up direct deposit from your paycheck into a savings account — whether it be plain vanilla savings or a CD. By making it automatic, you remove the temptation to spend.
7) Save more.
Let’s say you’re putting $200 per paycheck toward your savings. Great work! Now, find a way to increase your savings contribution to $300 per paycheck. Cut unnecessary expenses. Look for bargains on big-ticket items that you need. Sell the clothes you’ve been storing in your attic on eBay. You can find (legitimate) ways to save more if you look for them. Need some ideas? These 55 money saving tips ought to keep you busy.
8) Save for retirement.
Here’s another case where direct deposit makes it easy and painless to save for your future. And if you’re lucky enough to work for a company that matches your retirement contributions, take advantage to the max! If you don’t, you’re basically saying no to free money.
9) Get the right insurance.
For instance, if you have kids, life insurance is important. However, if you don’t have anyone who relies on you to support them financially, there’s no need to spend your hard-earned money on a life insurance policy just yet.
10) Protect your identity.
Don’t leave yourself open to identity theft. Monitor your credit on a regular basis and check your other financial accounts to make sure they look the way they’re supposed to look. Need help? Look into identity protection services on the web and get the pros to watch your back.
For free tools and advice to help you make good on your New Year’s money resolutions, check out Quizzle.com, where you’ll learn how to achieve your credit potential and get home loan recommendations tailored to your unique situation.
Also, check out these other great money-saving articles from the QuizzleWire:
- How to Mix Money When Moving in Together
- Useful Freebies You Can Find Online
- How to Save Money and Energy this Winter
- 7 Money Personalities to Avoid Dating
- 10 Common Myths about Your Credit Report & Score