Well 2017 came and went pretty quickly, and maybe you weren’t as far ahead as you thought that be, whether that is with your weight loss goal, your finances, or a different resolution entirely that you gave up on a few months into last year. Now that it is a brand-new year it’s time for a fresh start with your finances and give you a chance to wipe the slate clean and finally make steps to get ahead. At least you can make these changes right now in the first week of January instead of waiting until later on in the year, but since you are getting ahead of the game and starting now, it makes it all the more reasons to stick to your goal of finally getting ahead in 2018.
Plan Ahead While It’s Early
What you have going for you now is time, this year, to get your finances in gear so they pay off in the end by getting out of debt and saving for your future. The good thing about starting early is that you can plan ahead for birthdays, vacations, and even Christmas shopping that you plan on doing this year so you can save up throughout the month and will not be much of a hit when the time comes, or have to put on a credit card which could put you into or further in debt.
Put a Budget in Place
Most households don’t carry a budget, but this may not be the time to follow the crowd and go on your own and put a budget in place. By figuring out exactly how much income is coming in, what the necessary monthly expenses are, and how much you can allocate to money going out such as food, gas, and spending money, not to mention those upcoming events, you can start to really track where every dollar is going in an effort to conserve and hopefully reduce any unnecessary purchases that you would otherwise have.
Set Up an Emergency Fund
You never know when an unexpected expense can hit you, so instead of getting plain green loans, you can be prepared with a little cushion to cover any auto, appliance, or medical bill that comes your way that you would otherwise have to put on a credit card. It doesn’t have to be your life savings in this account, as otherwise this would be too much to let sit not collecting interest that it would in say 401k or a brokerage account, but if you can eventually get a few months’ worth of expenses in there, you will have a great cushion to pay cash if anything does come up, or float for a few months if at the worst you lost your job and needed to find a new one.
Earn Extra Cash
If you are stuck in place where you don’t find your income increasing this year, in order to free up extra money is to either reduce spending and expenses so you have a little more wiggle room, but if you are already at your limit, then it may be time to earn extra money. Sure, you can get a second job and work extra hours during your free time, whenever that is, but it may be a good idea to sell the items that are collecting dust around the house, while giving your home a good spring cleaning at the same time.
Check Your Credit Report
With the amount of fraud going on these days you never know when your information could be compromised and have accounts opened in your name or charged up existing, so it’s a good idea at least to check your credit report for free, of which any of the three major credit bureaus will offer a complimentary copy once a year. Not only that, but if you plan on getting a mortgage/refinance, loan, credit card, or these days even new employment, then your credit score needs to be at the top in order to take advantage of the best interest rates on the market.
Prepare Meals at Home
Take a look at last month’s credit or debit card statement and see how many times you went out to eat, whether that was grabbing lunch at work, picking up carry out for dinner, or even stopping for coffee in the morning. If you can avoid all of that, go grocery shopping, and prepare your meals at home, then you can save a significant amount every month and watch the savings add up right away.