Making resolutions is a common activity this time of year. As the calendar rolls over and the old year gives way to the new, people everywhere will be looking for ways to improve their lives, including their finances. Whether those resolutions are formally written down, shared with friends, or kept private, a few timely financial promises to oneself could pay big dividends in the coming year.
These financial resolutions do not have to be complicated or elaborate. Sometimes the best financial solutions are also the simplest. Here are some practical financial resolutions that may bring a brighter future in 2023 and beyond.
- Increase retirement plan contributions by 1% (or more). Raising retirement contributions by 1% in the year to come is a good starting point. Of course, it can always be increased as the year progresses—or even reduced if you find you become short on monthly revenue—but starting with 1% is an easy thing to do.
- Add $10 (or more if possible) to emergency savings each paycheck. Sometimes the smallest goals may be the easiest to reach, so vow to set aside $10 from every paycheck. Automate the process by using direct deposit to a savings account or move the funds manually each month. Experts widely agree that people should aim for at least a 3-6 month liquid emergency fund to cover unexpected events—like a job loss, emergency home repairs, medical bills, etc.
- Reevaluate your credit card obligations. Instead of carrying multiple balances on many cards with various rates, consider wrapping up that debt into one easy payment with less interest. Tower has several ways you can do this. You can choose one of Tower's three credit card options. Or apply for a Tower Personal Loan or Home Equity Loan.
- Choose one bill a month and negotiate it down. The ability to negotiate with a cable company, internet service provider, the phone company, and more may improve your finances in the coming year. Choose one bill a month, pick up the phone and negotiate to get fees and rates reduced. You may want to forego speaking with a customer service representative and instead ask for the Customer Retention Department. They will likely have more negotiating power, which could add up to substantial savings for you, and a happy customer for them.
- Create or update your monthly budget. Hopefully, a budget is already in place. If not, now is the time to create one. If a budget exists, make a resolution to fine-tune it even further. Make adjustments that create a higher level of control over expenses and income. Use this handy budget worksheet to get started.
- Improve job skills. A great way to improve finances for the coming year is to strengthen one's earning power. Take a class, enroll in community college, attend a seminar, and do other things that will help to earn more money. Better job qualifications may result in additional promotions.
- Consider a new financial planner. There is nothing wrong with shopping around, even if your current financial planner is providing good service. Getting a second opinion from another financial planner is one smart way to see the options available.
- Record/update the information for all online account logins, keep them somewhere safe and let a loved one know where they are. If death or incapacitation occurs, loved ones will be unable to access financial accounts without the correct information. Do them a favor by recording the information and keeping it in a safe place that they can access.
- Review all insurance coverages. Auto life and health insurance are not “set-it and forget-it” products, and an annual review should be on everyone's to-do list. Making sure the proper insurance coverage is in place should be part of the review process. Removing unnecessary coverage may result in monthly savings that can be used elsewhere. Or, your situation might have changed and you need to increase coverage. Either way, it's good to be on top of this.
- Set up an estate plan. Having an estate plan in place is one of the best things someone can do for loved ones. It's a smart way to provide financial protection for family members and direction for how you want any assets transferred upon your demise.
- Invest in good health. Last but not least, make the promise to focus on good health and well-being throughout the year. Exercising more, eating right, and taking care of one's self should always be a priority. There is always money to be saved when good health is in your corner.
Save with peace of mind
With short and long-term solutions, dollar by dollar you can begin building a brighter future.
Some savings ideas—pay yourself first!
Pay yourself first! It doesn't mean you get to table the car loan or utility bills for the month. What it DOES mean is that you pledge to take money out of each paycheck and tuck it aside in an account that you essentially don't touch.
Remember: the money that doesn't first have the chance to ride around in your wallet or account will be safe from random purchases and things you might not really need. Tower makes it easy through payroll deduction or allotments. Set them up! Perhaps you can tailor your finances to meet your desired contribution amount. If not? Reduce it. Payroll deduction is easy and flexible, plus it is a great way to make that budget stick. Set it and forget it.
Do some serious budget cuts. While you're budgeting, take a look at some areas to cut out—like things you may buy but never or rarely use. For example:
- Clothes that don't fit. A lot of times, we buy clothes without trying them on—and if they're a little snug we tend to play those mind games: “One day…..” Instead of letting those items wait for you on the hanger, save your receipt and bring it back to the store for a refund or store credit.
- Gym Memberships. Are you using your gym each week? You're probably paying upwards of $75 or more per month. It may be time to rethink how much you will actually use it. Check out local classes offered through churches, community centers, and others for a nominal or no fee. There are also drop-in pay-as-you-go classes. It might be $15 per class, but if you actually attend, it may be worth it. A monthly obligation that you don't use is a waste of money.
- Impulse Buys. Before you buy something that seems absolutely awesome that you weren't particularly shopping for, why not think about it overnight? It may be a great idea, but the point is that you considered it twice before you purchased it.
- Concert Tickets. How badly do you want to go see that band in person? Even the nosebleed section at many venues can set you back hundreds of dollars. And what if you can't go for any number of reasons? You're stuck either giving them away or trying to sell them to friends or on social media.
- Pet Toys. Fido and Kitty really DO need things to keep them occupied, but don't go overboard on this one. Your dog won't care. Your cat might give you a disapproving look, but don't be swayed. They have their faves, so buy them one each so they won't eat your furniture or scratch up your house.
- Trendy Tech Gadgets. Trendy means that in a few months it will go out of favor and you'll get a look like “Oh mom/dad that was so yesterday.” If it's $29.99, that's probably not too big of an investment. $400 or more? That's a biggie for most folks. Why not encourage your teens to save their babysitting dollars or snow shoveling fees for that expensive must-have and see what happens?
Finally, don't be afraid to reach out for help. Tower has teamed up with BALANCE to provide you financial counseling and education services to help you achieve financial stability. Simply call BALANCE toll-free at 888-456-2227 to speak with a certified counselor, who will answer your specific money management and credit-related questions. Or, visit the BALANCE website for more information.