Maybe you’re not the type that makes New Year’s resolutions, but we can all agree that you don’t necessarily need a resolution to push you toward better financial practices. 2016 is a great time to further improve your money habits, and perhaps reach some money goals that you’ve set.
Even if you already feel that you’re in a good place financially there are always ways that you can ensure you’re on the right track and even make some changes to your spending habits that will save money this year. You may even find that some changes to your financial practices are in order.
If you want to reduce your debt and increase your savings in 2016, try these five tips that will have you on top of your money game by the end of the year.
1. Track Your Spending Habits
It’s always a good idea to keep track of your spending but some people aren’t in the habit of doing so. Small, everyday purchases can add up to big money, and you may not even be aware that you’re spending large amounts of money on items like coffee or snacks.
Take advantage of your bank’s mobile apps to track your spending over the course of a month. Identify expenditures that you can do without and put that money toward other expenses or bills where it will truly make a difference.
2. Identify the Bills That Need to Be Paid First
Not all bills are created equal, and it’s important to know which ones should always be paid and which ones can wait if you’re in a financial jam. Any bill with interest charges absolutely must be paid on time, and payments for rent or your mortgage should always be paid when they’re due, as well.
In addition, you should always pay yourself first too. Even if it’s just a small amount, transferring money into a savings account each time you’re paid is a great way to begin to build a nest egg, as well as to get in the habit of saving money.
3. Create a Realistic Budget
Once you have a better idea of where you spend your money and what bills need to be paid it’s time to create a budget. Your most pressing bills go at the top, then you can create a descending list from there. At the bottom of the list should be nonessential spending such as entertainment.
However, don’t be too strict with yourself. Be conscious of your nonessential spending but don’t completely deny yourself a little fun. If you completely eliminate entertainment spending you may find that you’ll overspend at some later point.
4. Tackle Your Credit Cards
Credit cards are essential to modern living, but they also have the potential to create debt problems for some consumers. While it is always best to pay off your cards in total each and every month, if you’ve found yourself with a balance that is accruing interest the time is now to rectify that.
One of the best ways to accomplish this is with a no interest balance transfer. Many credit card companies offer a variation of this perk, and it’s worthwhile to investigate and find the one that’s right for you. You can move your high-interest credit card debt to the new card and avoid interest while paying it off. Some cards will offer up to 36 months of interest-free balance transfers, and you could start banking rewards points as well.
5. Explore the World of Investments
If you haven’t already done so now is the time to start making your money work for you. Whether it’s a foray into the stock market or a real estate investment, even something small can add up to more money in the future.
Schedule a meeting with a financial advisor and learn more about your options. Retirement plans, insurance policies, and stocks are all good choices with the right guidance. You could soon find yourself with a healthy portfolio and more money in the bank, but the time to start is now.
Learning more about your money and how to make your financial life easier are always good choices. From proper budgeting to savvy investments, you’re always making the right decision by giving your financial life the attention it deserves. Start with these five steps to ensure that 2016 is your best money year to date.