Relax, I’m not saying to make one yet. Just to start thinking about one. Think about your personal financial goals as well as what you struggled with or put off this past year.
Maybe it’s one of those thoughts that linger in the back of your mind- something you tell yourself you need to do but for whatever reason you haven’t yet. Here are 10 ideas to ponder before December 31.
For me, estate planning tops the list. I need to just do it! What would happen to your children and your assets if you and/or your spouse died tomorrow? Nobody wants to think about it, but if you don’t put it in writing the courts will decide. I know a legit estate plan can be pricey, so I’m setting aside money in a separate account to keep me focused and remind me each month that it needs to be done.
Pay off plastic.
Credit card debt varies from person to person, but no matter who you are, it costs you. If it’s a small balance on a store card, resolve to eliminate it this year. If you’ve maxed out a deck full of cards, commit to paying down one of them this year.
Speed up a car payment.
Most people don’t know how much a 48- to 72-month car loan really costs. It’s usually thousands more on top of the sales price. Paying it off early is a great feeling, creating peace of mind, month after month.
Pay on principal. If you think the interest on a car loan adds up, mortgage interest will blow you away. Making one extra “principal only” payment each year, however, will slash the amount by tens of thousands! https://www.cacu.com/personal
Rev up retirement
. If you think about it, retirement is one of the only life event that you can’t take out a loan for. Pretty eye opening! I will take a wild guess that you could be contributing more to your 401(k), IRA or other retirement savings plan. Bump it up a few percentage points this year and you’ll reach your retirement goal that much sooner.
Start that college fund. It’s never too early, and never too late. Whether you have an infant, a teenager or a grandchild, your money will do more for them if you invest it right now. http://www.newyorklife.com/learn-and-plan/start-a-college-fund
Ensure the right coverage.
Insurance needs change over time. Maybe you added to your family or subtracted a dependent. Evaluate your situation and update your auto, life and home/renter’s insurance accordingly. If you haven’t utilized, say an HSA, to its maximum benefit, consider a reduction.
Envision vacation. Many of us get an idea in our heads of how much a trip costs, and the sticker price scares us away from even thinking about it. Maybe that’s a good thing. On the other hand, maybe a great vacation is within our reach after all. Start researching, planning and saving now. This will reduce the likelihood of booking a trip on credit when you get the travel bug. http://www.realsimple.com/work-life/travel/planning/vacation-budget-00100000062574/
Save for something.
The unfortunate truth is that many people don’t save for anything, mainly because they don’t think they can. I don’t care what your situation is, you can do it, whether it’s for a vacation, holiday gifts, a down payment on a house … you name the goal. Set up a separate account for whatever it is, and set aside a monthly contribution. Still don’t think you can? Know you’re not alone. Your financial institution should be more than willing to help you succeed. If not, maybe it’s time to shop for one who will!
As much as New Year’s resolutions are about improving ourselves, a big part of that will always be improving the lives of others. Determine what more you can do, whether it’s a bigger donation of your treasure or your time. This time next year, you may feel a whole lot differently about your net worth. I am not suggesting you do all of these, but even one or two can make a world of difference. Think of it this way, budgeting and saving money is like exercise. It only works if you stop making excuses and start trying.
Kat's Money Corner is posted on Dollars Sense every Tuesday. Kat Hnatyshyn, when not blogging or caring for her little one, is a manager with CommunityAmerica Credit Union. For more financial chatter, click http://twitter.com/savinmavens.