New years for many if a time of resolutions and determination to make the next year much better than the last. A favorite lyric of mine comes to mind from the Counting Crows “A Long December” which goes “there’s reason to believe Maybe this year will be better than the last”. When it comes to your finances it certainly can be a better year than the last if you take a few easy steps to secure your financial future today. These tips do not need to wait till 2016 either, you can start using them today!
First off take some time to examine your habits. Do you have any costly habits? Chances are you do, most of us have at least one or two and it only takes one or two costly habits to put a damper on our budgets and wreck havoc with our finances. If you smoke for example consider trying to replace that habit with less expensive e-cig or vaping habit, which can save you $165 dollars per month in a state where a pack costs $5.50. If you eat out every day of the week at work consider packing your lunch 4 days a week and save around $1200 per year.
Set yourself some financial goals that are attainable fully. Make up some realistic goals for yourself and steal your resolve to see them through even if it takes some discipline. One goal I always advise people to do is to somehow set aside an extra $2500 to $5000 per year into either their retirement accounts or some form of investment such as stocks, bonds or mutual funds. The reason being that the temptation to cash into these investments is less than it is to simply withdraw money from the bank. if you can simply set aside $2500 per year after a mere 10 years you will have invested a total of $25,000 and if you can make it $5000 per year you can have a raw $50,000 set aside after only 10 years, not counting any interest or dividends you might receive on this money.
For many Americans the road to financial ruin starts with peoples own failure to set up a rainy day fund or emergency fund. We all think the worst simply cannot happen to “Us” yet every year millions of Americans lose their jobs, health coverage and face tragedies such as housing fires, all things that require an emergency fund as a cushion. An emergency fund is not a luxury it is a necessity. As a rule of the thumb you should begin to build an emergency fund that can cover between six months to one year of living expenses.
If you suspect that you will have tax debt come tax season there are steps you can take right here and right now to avoid paying any taxes and also benefit from it personally. You can contribute up to $17,500 to your 401(k) in 2014 provided you are age 49 or under. The best part about this is it is pre-tax money that you are padding your 401k with as you are not taxed on it until you withdraw it at retirement. You can save thousands at tax time with this maneuver all while building up your retirement account.
This article was written by Steven Moore, who has been covering consumer finance and the credit card markets since 2006. You can learn more and connect at his Google+ page.