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With every new year comes the opportunity to make changes in your life. It may seem cliche, and you certainly do not have to wait for the start of a new year to make changes to your financial life. However, many enjoy the momentum they feel when they create resolutions for the new year. Here are five financial resolutions for the new year that could help you start fresh.

  1. Cancel Subscriptions You Don’t Need or Use
  2. Upgrade Your Emergency Fund
  3. Automate Your Savings
  4. Start Investing
  5. Pay Down Debt

1. Cancel Subscriptions You Don’t Need or Use

Now that so many services are offered as automated subscriptions, it’s easy to lose track of everything you pay for every month. 

Consider reviewing all of your subscriptions for the new year and only keeping the ones you use regularly. 

Two ways to review and cancel subscriptions:

  1. Use an app like Truebill to look up and cancel all your subscriptions. Subscription services typically require you to link your bank information to search for and add up recurring monthly payments. 
  2. Manually look up your subscriptions by reviewing the downloaded apps on your devices or use your bank statement to make a list of recurring monthly subscription payments.

2. Start or Upgrade Your Emergency Fund

If you don’t have an emergency fund, the new year is a great time to start one. Emergency funds are savings accounts with money that is accessible at any time to cover unexpected expenses like emergency repairs, medical bills, and more. 

People typically save enough money to cover their recurring monthly expenses for one to six months. 

Follow these tips to start an emergency fund for the first time. 

If you already have one, consider upgrading it by increasing your saved amount. 

You can build your emergency fund by:

  1. Manually adding windfalls like annual bonuses or tax returns.
  2. Automate a deposit amount every month until you reach your goal
  3. Use money from side hustle to grow your fund.
  4. Always make a plan to replenish your fund when you make withdrawals

3. Automate Your Savings

Most people take advantage of automated bill payments because they are convenient and help prevent late or missed payments. So why not apply the same strategy to your savings. 

When you automate deposits into your savings accounts, you ensure that saving is never an afterthought. It also keeps you from thinking you have more spending money than you can afford to spend.

Personal finance experts call this “paying yourself first.” The strategy ensures that your savings and investment goals get just as much priority as your other bills. 

4. Start Investing

Money makes money, and investing is pretty much the only way to build wealth that doesn’t involve trading your time for income. 

Many people hesitate to invest because they worry that they don’t know how to make sound investment decisions. However, those fears are a thing of the past. There are many trusted investment apps, and services that are great for beginners. 

Apps like Acorns allow you to invest small or large amounts in automated portfolios with adjustable risk levels.

Ultimately, the best way to learn how to invest is to start investing. So consider taking the plunge this year. 

5. Pay Down Debt

If your debt isn’t under control, it’s hard to maintain financial health regardless of how well you budget. 

While paying down debt often requires patience and persistence, you can shorten the amount of time it takes by reviewing your repayment strategy. 

Making minimum payments is the slowest and most expensive way to pay down debt. Instead, consider paying more than the minimum amount. You can increase your monthly payment or make periodic lump-sum payments to help decrease your principal balance. 

If you have multiple debts, you may consider different strategies like the snowball or avalanche method

Snowball method: pay down debt in order of balance; highest to lowest

Avalanche method: pay down debt in order of interest rate; highest to lowest

If you have already tried these approaches or simply have more debt than you can handle, it may be time to consider debt consolidation or resolution. 

The option that is best for you will depend on your circumstances. Speaking with a Consolidation Specialist for a risk-free consultation can help you choose the right path.

Get Your Finances in Order This Year

These five financial resolutions are a great place to start but make sure to tailor your list to your needs and goals.

When creating your list of resolutions consider making the goals specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-bound. This method of goal setting is called S.M.A.R.T. 

You are much more likely to succeed in your financial resolutions if you have a clear and actionable plan.

You can download our free S.M.A.R.T. goals worksheet or create your own.

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