New Year's Financial Resolutions
NEW YORK ( MainStreet) It's almost 2014, and that means that it's time to start cleaning up your financial house. New Year's resolutions are almost always about losing weight and dieting. Why not put the same care and attention into your personal finance as you do your physical appearance? Make 2014 the year that you start making changes, big and little, to your personal finance so that you can end the year with a big financial bang.
Increase Your Savings
Increasing your savings in the coming year is one of the best moves that you can make. Ted Jenkin, founder of oXYGen Financial, points out that even a 1% increase in your retirement savings can make a big difference over years.
Greg McBride, a senior financial planner and CFA for Bankrate.com, advises people to automate their savings. "Pay yourself first by putting something aside from every paycheck into a dedicated account," he said. A lot of times, saving is about habits. "A direct deposit establishes a habit of saving," he said.
It doesn't need to be a lot. "If you can consistently save 15% of your income, you're taking a huge stride toward financial security," McBride said. He also urges people to move toward all their savings goals in tandem, rather than one at a time.
Increasing savings isn't necessarily about throwing more money into a savings account. You also want to make any strides that you can toward getting rid of your debt. Consider the fact that the less debt you have, the more you can save. Paying down on your debts and eliminating them where you can frees up money to use other places.
"Over a quarter of Americans have no savings plan at all," says McBride, who also notes that this is also about the percentage of Americans that have an adequate rainy day fund. When you pay down your rolling debts, that makes it a lot easier to get your savings in order.
Rebalance What You Have
The new year is a time to look at what you're already doing and see how you can do it better. For example, Colleen O'Brien, a Charles Schwab branch manager, suggests potentially rolling over into a Roth IRA if you're a younger, newer worker and you think you'll be in a higher tax bracket when you retire. "It makes the most sense for new investors to start there," she says.
You always want to look into rebalancing your accounts for retirement. "If an S&P fund did really well, but a bond fund didn't, you need to think about moving things around," she says. That can be hard to do by yourself, so don't be afraid to see a CFP. Still, she recommends that you "ask yourself if you believe in a company," before you jump ship on any particular security. "If you believe in the fundamentals of their business model, you might not want to sell," she said.