5 Ways to Improve Your Finances in 2017
Looking for ways to improve your finances in 2017? Is your credit rating subpar, or are you drowning in debt? If so, making money and personal finance goals will often seem to be a lost cause. If the fear of failure is preventing you from even making an attempt to achieve your financial goals, then it’s time to narrow the focus and scope of your goals. The journey to financial peace is a series of small steps.
Here are a few steps you can take in 2017 to start off your journey:
- Know What Your Credit Score Is.
We get it. Seeing how low your credit score is like looking at a reminder of how far you’ve fallen (if it’s low), but it is a hurdle you’ll have to face. Your credit score affects your ability to obtain future lines of credit, and it factors into the interest rate you pay for loans, a mortgage, or even whether or not a landlord will approve you as a tenant. Monitoring your credit score is going to help you create a financial game plan for improving the current state of your finances. Remember: the higher it is, the better. We recommend you check your credit report annually via www.annualcreditreport.com. We also suggest you monitor your credit report as often as you choose by signing up for a free account via www.creditkarma.com. Both of these websites are free and are perfect first steps to start repairing your credit.
- Protect yourself against identity theft.
This is an important, but often ignored step, when it comes to creating financial security for yourself and your family. Not only can identity thieves steal your money, but they can also take your identity, which enables them to create fraudulent accounts in your name. What this results in is thousands upon thousands of dollars of debt, plus the many hours you must pour into rectifying the situation.
Lifelock or Transunion are two the best credit monitoring services available, and there are many more like them. The small monthly fee you pay for their services will be well-worth it in the end. You can also watch your credit via www.creditkarma.com, as stated above.
- Focus on eliminating your high interest debt.
Whether it’s a car loan or student debt, loans with high interest rates will quickly eat away at your available income. If possible, try to consolidate multiple, high interest loans into a single loan with a lower interest rate. In doing so, more of each monthly payment will be directed towards lowering the balance. If you have several, high interest credit cards, consider transferring their balances to a single card with a promotional 0% APR interest rate while you pay them off. Make it your goal to pay off the balance before the promotional period ends.
- Maximize your workplace benefits.
If you are fortunate enough to have an employer who offers benefits, make the most of them. For example, many employers offer disability and health insurance that will protect your finances in the event you are unable to work. Likewise, employers will often match the amount of your salary that you contribute to a retirement account (generally up to 5%). Even if you can only throw in 1-2% of your salary, your employer will match those contributions, which means more money in your pocket when you retire. We suggest you take advantage of your company’s full match.
- Make your budget easier to follow by automating it.
If you have difficulties sticking to a budget, make the task easier by creating automatic payments and deposits. Regular transfers to your investment and savings accounts create the mindset of “paying yourself first”. If you become accustomed to doing without the extra funds, you’ll never miss them when they go into your accounts on the first of the month. Don’t forget to create automatic transfers to your savings account as well. Some individuals also automate their monthly bills. This will help you avoid late payments, disconnects notices and late payments on your credit report.
Taking small steps in 2017 to improve your finances will create a financial cushion that can free you from financial worry. In 30 years, 2017 will be a distant memory, but you’ll be so glad you did it.