Everyone knows that January 1 is a time for making New Year’s Resolutions. Everyone also knows most people give up on their Resolutions by January 2, although some strong-willed individuals may actually last until January 3.
Why do so many New Year’s Resolutions fail? Most of us just try to do too much too fast. People who want to lose weight, for example, sign up for a gym membership, draw up a meal plan and promptly get overwhelmed and retreat to the safety of their old routine.
Instead of making these grand gestures, experts recommend you make gradual, small changes. Make one small change every week. After only three weeks, you’ll notice you’ve made progress toward your goals.
With that in mind, we’ve put together a list of five financial New Year’s Resolutions that won’t upend your day-to-day life. Even better, they’ll have an immediate impact on your financial health.
Save 15% of Each Paycheck
Most people talk about wanting to save more money, but ask them how they’re going to save more and suddenly they’d prefer to talk about the weather instead. Coming up with ways to save is difficult, especially when it feels like you have to spend most of your paycheck on bills, rent and groceries.
The solution is to pay yourself before you pay everyone else. If you feel as though you have too many expenses to do this, try a simple experiment. Calculate 15% of your paycheck, and then set up an automatic transfer from your checking account to your savings account for that amount every time your paycheck gets deposited.
Most of the time, you’ll never miss this money. Even better, after a few months you’ll be surprised at how much money is sitting in your savings account.
Track Your Daily Expenses
Anyone who has tried to lose weight knows that the best way is to track everything you eat. Simply doing that will make you more conscious of what you’re eating and less likely to overindulge.
The same principle applies with finances. When you track what you spend, you become more mindful of how you’re spending your money. Thanks to several free apps out there, tracking your expenses is easier today than it has ever been.
Create a Budget
Creating a budget has several well-documented benefits, including helping you put aside money for the things you want to do. Creating a budget is easy, and when you realize your first effort doesn’t have to be set in stone it’s a lot less daunting.
Invest in a CD
Once you have a significant amount of money stored up in your savings account, put some of it to work for you. The easiest way to do this is invest in a Certificate of Deposit.
You have to have $500 in order to start a CD. You’ll also have to choose how long you want your money in the CD. You can leave it in for a short a time as six months or as long as two years, although the interest rate does get higher the longer you leave your money in.
Monitor Your Credit Score and Report
Once you have your immediate finances under control, the final thing to do is monitor your credit score. You have your pick of several credit monitoring sites and apps, but you can also visit AnnualCreditCreport.com, which is the official site of the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau, and get a free annual credit report from the three major consumer reporting companies—Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. When you get your credit report, go through it and keep an eye out for any inconsistencies, especially if your credit score is lower than you think it should be.
Once you’re done, make a reminder to check your credit score again in three to four months. You’ll have an easier time fixing issues with your credit report the sooner you uncover them, which can be important if you ever want to get a loan.
Take Your Finances to the Next Level with First Alliance Credit Union
These resolutions are just some of the basic steps you can take to improve your finances. Once you’re mastered these, take the next step and invest the cash you’ve saved. Contact Member Services at First Alliance Credit Union to have our expert team of advisors help you select the best way to make your money work for you. Happy New Year!