By Melissa Unger
Chances are you are like most people: Your wallet took a big hit this holiday season, which means you’re starting the new year broke. So, if getting your finances into shape is your New Year’s resolution, here are 10 tips, some courtesy of Kristin McDonough, Director of the Science, Industry and Business Library in New York City.
+ Budget, Budget, Budget
So, you are a master at budgeting your time, but it just doesn’t translate to your wallet. Keep it simple. If you hate to balance a checkbook, open up a second checking account for your bills. Plus, “expenses should always be carefully planned,” according to Kristin McDonough. She says to “make a list of how much you expect to spend … then divide by twelve.” Make sure to set this amount aside each month and know the timing of when you are planning to spend it.
+ Cash Over Credit
Kristin also says to try always to use cash instead of credit. She says “you’re less likely to overspend, which will save you from a great deal of grief.” She adds, “if you have to use the plastic, calculate the real cost of an item by adding the finance charge to the sticker price.”
+ Automatic Savings
Never have the dough at the end of the month to put in the piggy bank? Take it out when you first get paid. Or, if that is hard, have your financial institution do it for you so you won’t miss it.
+ Automatic Bill Pay
Want to save money? Never pay a late fee again by setting up automatic bill pay with your financial institution. It’s so simple and can really save you some cold hard cash. Again, this will help you with budgeting and timing of funds.
+ Shop NOW
Didn’t get that gift that you wanted this holiday season? Or is there something that you really still need? Don’t wait for Black Friday next year. Buy it now! Savings are actually bigger after the holidays til mid-January than most other times of the year. Retailers are desperate to unload what they didn’t sell this holiday season.
+ The Old Is the New New
According to Kristin, “retro is the rage right now” and you can save you some real money. She says, “so set your sights on vintage items and recycle or repurpose an item from your family closet or local consignment shop.”
+ Educate Yourself
Learn about stocks, bonds, IRAs, 401Ks and other assets. Take some time out for yourself and get educated on the financial products available. Your library and local bank are great places to start. In New York City, there is a whole library devoted to financial success called the Science, Industry and Business Library. Start building your financial portfolio today.
Don’t have coverage or you’ve been paying for health care out of pocket? Check out the government’s new health care marketplace. You can get insured — probably for a lot less that you would think. You can save yourself some real money and make sure you are taken care of down the road.
+ Give Back
It’s funny that thing called karma, but when you give, it usually comes right back in one form or another. So, Kristin says contribute to a family member or friend’s charity of choice. If the timing’s right, then giving as little as $10 can help meet a donor-matching challenge, and … your donation is tax deductible.”
+ Coupons Are Actually Pretty Cool
There are tons of apps for your phone and websites like Groupon. So get your couponing on. It can really save you pennies, which will add up to dollars. Take the savings and put it into a special savings account to help with unbudgeted emergencies.
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