It may no longer be January, but that doesn’t mean that it’s too late in the year to make new resolutions regarding your finances. Here are four specific resolutions you can make for better financial habits.
Establish a budget sheet (and use an app to help you stick to it.)
Only about a third of Americans maintain a budget, and this could in part explain why in 2014 we accumulated $60 billion in credit card debt. Creating a budget sheet is a great way to track your spending, pinpoint areas where you could cut down, and plan for future saving. Make it a goal to create a budget sheet for the month of January, and then to adjust your budget sheet as needed for the month of February. A great way to start your budget sheet is to gather your regular bills from the past few months and to note these as expected expenses. Line these up with your anticipated income and determine where you have wiggle room to add money to savings—or where you might be able to create that wiggle room. Maintaining a budget will become easier as you gain practice, and there are plenty of apps out there that will help you stick to your budget.
Contribute $100 to your emergency fund every month.
If you don’t yet have an emergency fund established to help take care of your expenses should the unexpected happen, now is the time to start one. Your overall goal will be to establish an emergency fund that has enough funds to cover about six months’ worth of typical expenses. Even if you don’t feel that you have a great deal of money to spare now, you can start small and commit to contributing a fixed amount to that emergency fund every month—$100, for example. Make your goal specific so that you’ll be more likely to stick to it.
Save an extra $50 more per month.
How much have you been adding to your savings account per month? Any chance you could increase that by $50? Chances are you can—you just need to locate the areas in your budget where it’s feasible. Consider shopping around for more affordable home or auto insurance, or for a more affordable monthly Internet or phone bill. Then put those savings directly into your savings account every month. You might also consider doing things like eating out less, planning out your meals ahead of time to save on groceries, and going through the circulars that come in the mail every week to look for coupons you know you’ll use.
Arm yourself against fraud.
How safe are your finances against potential fraud? Make it a resolution to do what you can to protect yourself against potential fraud in the future. Put the phone numbers to your credit and debit card companies directly into your phone should you need them after having a wallet or purse stolen. Shred documents containing sensitive information before disposing of them. Lock your mailbox when you are away from home. Update passwords wherever you have online accounts in order to ensure that these accounts are as secure as they can be.