January is the perfect time to sit down and carefully review your financial resolutions.
If 2020 reminded us of anything, it’s that life can be very unpredictable. But knowing where you stand financially, as well as having an emergency fund and savings, can help offset big surprises when they pop up. Here, we’ve outlined seven of the top resolutions to review for 2021.
Layout A Budget
A budget is essential in order to reach your financial goals. Start by reviewing your annual income, monthly expenses, as well as discretionary spending for entertainment. You can track all of your costs in a convenient app like Mint or Wally, so you can see where you might be overspending. Once you know exactly where your money goes, you can create a specific plan to save up for the things you want most.
Get The Whole Family Involved
Financial responsibility and education should start at home. It’s never too soon to begin teaching good financial behaviors. Check out our It’s a Money Thing, which is an education tool located on our website to teach both young people and adults about making good financial decisions.
Check Your Paycheck’s Tax Withholdings
The IRS published a new W-4 form in late 2019, so that employers could calculate if changes to federal tax withholding should be made. According to research, most employees never filled out the form. If you were never made aware of this, ask your HR department for the form in order to determine if you should adjust your withholdings in the New Year.
Set Aside An Emergency Fund
Because life’s hurdles tend to crop up when we least expect them, financial experts recommend putting aside an emergency fund with three to six months’ worth of expenses. Begin by putting away a little each week, so if something comes up, you’ll be prepared.
Start Saving For Retirement Today
No doubt, you’ll want to stop working and retire one day. In order to do so, it’s crucial to begin saving for retirement now. If your employer offers a 401(k) plan, take advantage of it and be sure to invest whatever amount they may offer to match. Better yet, max out your monthly contributions, if possible.
Stash Your Cash
It sounds obvious, but putting money away for both rainy days and for the things you want is imperative. Ways to stash some cash? Check out your credit card statement for unused subscriptions to streaming services or magazines. Did you take mass transit to work, but are now remote? Pay yourself for your commuting costs, and add it to your savings.
Review Your Credit Report Each Year
Add this to your annual to-do list, and request a copy of your credit report from one of the big agencies like Experian. Look for errors that may be hiding there, as they could interfere with your ability to obtain a loan or even a new job. You can also freeze your three credit reports, in order to protect yourself against identity thieves and hackers who might try to open credit cards or loans in your name.