By Barbara Pronin
Not surprisingly, the top financial resolutions for 2015 were to save more, spend less, and pay off debt. It’s a list that rarely changes from year to year, say financial mavens at The Fiscal Times, a digital news service reporting on fiscal policy. Yet results are almost always mixed.
As we enter 2016, financial experts advise, consumers focused on improving their fiscal well-being would do well to make these financial resolutions:
- Know your credit history – Having higher credit scores can save you big bucks on interest over the years. Pull your credit report for free every 12 months from each of the three major credit reporting agencies – TransUnion, Equifax and Experian – at annualcreditreport.com. Once you have it, check for and correct mistakes that could be hurting your credit profile.
- Get on the same page with your partner – If your finances are co-mingled with a spouse or significant other, get everything out in the open, including debts, salaries, credit scores and spending habits. Together, figure out how you will manage your obligations, what financial goals are most important, and how you plan to reach them.
- Live below your means – Start by tracking where your money goes. Spending is a key variable, so record every penny spent in one month in a notebook or an Excel spreadsheet. That will show you whether you are spending too much and where you can cut back.
- Start saving more – Max out your 401(k) contributions or at least contribute enough to get the full employer match your company offers. Determine what you want to save toward. To build emergency savings, aim to sock away at least six months’ worth of expenses. Have a certain amount of money direct deposited into a savings account – or set up automatic transfers to a savings account after each paycheck.
- Whittle down debt – Maximize monthly payments to the greatest extent you can. Make one extra mortgage payment each year. Consult with a financial planner about debt consolidation.
- Review your wills and beneficiaries – Make sure your insurance policies are adequate, for your home as well as life and disability. Reread your policies, as well as your will, powers of attorney, retirement benefits and health proxies and make any necessary updates to reflect any changes in family circumstances.