1. Get Organized –That’s the most important thing you can do to start the new year. You can’t go forward if you don’t know where you’re starting from! Lists are important, as are files – whether on paper or on your computer. A disorganized mind will destroy your financial future.
To help you in this organization project, just go to TerrySavage.com and print out the four-page organizer form in the box at the top right corner of the home page. Here’s a direct link.
2. Deal with your Debt Consumer debt jumped 15% in the last half of 2022—up 15% from a year ago, and the largest percentage jump in 20 years. And now the bills are coming in. The worst thing you can do is ignore them. Open those bills, add up the balances, and check the card interest rate. Now that you have a big balance those finance charges are going to rise. They think they have you trapped! Go to www.CreditCards.com and look for balance transfer cards that can give you some breathing room with zero interest. But use that grace period to pay down the balance or you’ll be in worse trouble. Can you double the minimum monthly payment every month? That’s a great way to pay down debt.
3. Manage Your Spending There is no longer any excuse for not knowing where all your money went or paying late fees on bills. There are several great apps that will help you track your income and spending, remind you when bills are due, and divert some money to a savings plan.
Apps like Rocket Money, Simplifi by Quicken, Mint, YNAB (stands for You Need A Budget) and Acorns can help you get your finances on track.
4. Review Your Investments Do you have a 40l(k) plan at work, or an individual retirement account? When your year-end statement comes in this month it will be painful to see the losses that came from an unusual bear market in both stock and bonds — losses that could have cost you 20% or more. But don’t give up. Instead review your investments, make conservative changes, and stick with your plan. This is also a good time to make sure you’re contributing enough to your 40l(k) to get the full employer match – free money! Call the HR department to make sure.
5. Build up Your Savings With interest rates on the rise, it suddenly pays to save more. If your bank doesn’t offer high rates on money markets or CDs, you can buy U.S. Treasury Bills paying about 4-3/4 percent for 6 months. You buy them online at TreasuryDirect.gov and minimum investment is only $100. Here’s a link to my article on How to Buy Treasury Bills. Paying attention to your money can pay off big time these days.
The bottom line is that you now get a chance to start over with your money in the New Year. Use these tips to take control and stop worrying. Now is the time to make your 2023 money plan. And that’s The Savage Truth.