The New Year is a great time to make a clean break with the past, and adopt a couple of positive behaviors. Here are five simple, low-impact financial moves. Everyone can make at least one, and it will pay immediate dividends.
Little Effort, Great Returns: Financial Moves for 2017
Cancel One Subscription
Look at your expenses for a month. Which of those expenses could easily be cut without much sacrifice? Here are a few options:
- When was the last time you went to the gym? Is your gym the hottest place in town? Is it a status symbol? Can you run outside instead of running on the treadmill? Unless you go to the gym every day, you can cut this membership very easily.
- How many magazine subscriptions do you have? How about the newspaper? Do you read each one? Can you read it for free on the internet?
- When is the last time you watched Netflix? HBO, Showtime?
- What about that sports channel?
If cancelling one subscription is easy now, then think how easy it will be to cancel something else in the coming months.
Transfer a High-Interest Credit Card to a Low-Interest Credit Card
Are you carrying a balance on a high interest credit card? Do you know what you are paying in interest? Look at your credit card statements and determine which one you pay the most interest on. You can transfer that balance to another card with a lower interest rate, or transfer the balance to a new credit card with zero percent APR for a certain time period.
This simple transfer can save hundreds of dollars and help you pay off debt quicker.Contribute the Max to Your 401(k)
Prevailing wisdom tells us to contribute 15 percent of pre-tax salary to retirement savings. This can seem like a lot, but if done incrementally, the impact is minimized. Especially if your employer matches contributions, which makes it easier to hit the 15 percent goal. In 2017 and 2018, get to the 15 percent threshold by upping your 401(k) each time your employer provides the opportunity to modify it. A little pain today provides ample benefit in the future.
Build an Emergency Fund
Life will continue to get in the way. Unforeseen expenses happen to everybody for the entirety of life. What you want to do is get ahead of these expenses. In other words, instead of charging, or worse yet, liquidating investments to pay for unanticipated expenses, pay for them with an emergency fund. This year and next, take a reasonable amount of money out of each paycheck and save it in an account. An emergency fund should be three to six months of your take home pay.
Review Your Credit Report
If you haven’t reviewed your credit report in a while, you should. It’s free to do so. If you plan to make a major purchase in the near future, it’s certainly important to review your score. Take note of your accounts’ reports. You have the right to correct anything you see as erroneous. It’s also smart to look for fraud.
Financial Moves Get Easier With Practice
Financial stability and health can be achieved by starting small. These are small financial moves, and each successive move will become easier and more beneficial. Make 2017 the year you start to get your financial house in order.