Let’s face the facts: After the holiday shopping is finished, most of us find that our bank accounts are somewhat smaller than we hoped they would be. With that in mind, here are 10 financial tips everyone can utilize to start the new year off on a smarter note money-wise and hopefully stick with throughout 2018:
- Stop getting nickeled and dimed by everyone – and don’t start doing it to everyone else!
Why let stores, friends, family, etc. take advantage of you when it comes to money? Be fair about money matters and don’t get taken advantage of by anyone. Instead, use coupons, negotiate better deals/terms (especially when it comes to insurances and large purchases) and ask firmly but nicely (mind your manners) for the money you’re owed. Stop drawing the short straw in these situations – you deserve better.
- Put a budget in place – and stick to it!
No sense in spending your money without a clue – let’s figure out how to better use this green stuff, eh? Nothing will help you do that better than really seeing what money comes in the door and what goes out. No excuses either – there are plenty of cheap and easy-to-use software/apps/tools that can help you create/track your budget. After you do this, you can figure out where you need to improve and work to meet those goals.
- Put a financial plan in place – and stick to it!
See #2 above. Make sure your investments/tax situations are where they need to be with your goals in mind … whatever those goals may be.
- Eliminate terrible debt.
Big-box-store credit cards are probably the No. 1 problem for most people. The only acceptable debt (if the interest rates are reasonable) are mortgages, car loans, home-improvement loans, business loans and college loans. Negotiate lower rates whenever possible – no need to pay more interest than you should.
- Get a sufficient emergency fund in place NOW.
This way, you won’t resort to using plastic when you have one of those “uh-oh” moments. Ideally, save three months of income for starters. If you can get up to one year of income saved for your “rainy day” fund, that would be best.
- Improve your health – yes, this affects your money!
We’d all like to spend less money on medications/prescriptions, doctor visits (except your regular checkups), etc. Eating better (you can contact me about this too – I can advise you in this area) and regular exercise (try to start somewhere – even if it’s just taking a walk to start the day, after lunch and/or after dinner) are truly your financial “friends.” If you make some healthy changes, you will spend less money for many types of insurances going forward and enjoy a better quality of life. Who doesn’t want to have more money and be healthier?
- Take care of the (big) things you have.
No sense in frequently spending money on big-ticket items. Make them last for a while. Maintenance is key, especially when it comes to vehicles, boats, your home, properties, etc.
- Be satisfied with what you have.
Too many people play that silly game called “Keeping Up With the Joneses.” Having the latest big-screen TV in every room in your house is not wise if you don’t have enough saved for retirement or for little Suzie’s college education. Prioritize the things that really matter – delay instant gratification. Lose the “I need this yesterday” mentality that gets far too many people into financial trouble.
- Avoid doing dumb things.
What I mean is that people take legal action against other people every day, so refrain from giving the sue-happy crowd any reason to come after you. There’s a reason there are a lot of attorneys in the good ol’ U.S.A.
- Learn something new financially every day – even if it seems like something trivial.
The more you educate yourself about financial matters, the better financial decisions you’ll tend to make. Hire a qualified financial professional who educates you on a regular basis – this 10th step (if you hire the right advisor) can easily help you with the previous nine financial tips!
Happy New Year’s, everyone. Let’s make 2018 the best (financial) year yet!
To learn more about Martin Federici, view his Paladin Registry research report.
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