As soon as you started the year to try and make a dent into your credit card debt and start to give your savings a boost, pretty soon it’s December and the year is almost over, making you sit back and review your whole financial picture. If you’re like most,you probably wished you would have accomplished more throughout the year. Now is as good of time as ever to get your finances on track and look to begin 2019 with a forward plan of attack and set yourself up for success for many years to come with a few tweaks.
Stick to a Budget
While this could also be called ‘create a budget’, this will focus on sticking to it. Sure, anyone can come up with a budget, but for roughly two-thirds of the population either do not have a budget, or created one but quit shortly after. Sure, it takes a lot of work to hold yourself to a budget. After all, that means the days of the careless spending are over and now have to watch every dollar that goes out. If you can make a budget successful, you will start to see savings add up right away.
Start Eating at Home
Sure, it’s easy to stop and get carryout for dinner on your way home, but $20-30 each time and that adds up over the course of the week for the household, let alone going out to a restaurant, you can watch the costs add up pretty quickly. Throw in going out to lunch, stopping for coffee every morning, and pretty soon you are spending hundreds of extra dollars a month of food that could be a fraction of the costby eating at home. You may even see the weight drop off too, which is probably a personal resolution, as you start to eat healthier at home, to get to check a couple off the list.
Stop Using the Credit Card
While used correctly, a credit card can actually make good financial sense, especially when it comes to the rewards. You can watch the points and cashback pile up by making even the purchases you were going to make regardless, but you have to be able to pay the full statement balance each month, otherwise the interest on the balance you carryover will start to add up and wipe out any rewards that you would have earned. Until you can get the spending until control, maybe you should opt for cash or debit.
Don’t Forget About Saving
Putting money aside is probably your last priority, but that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be. Saving for retirement should be a focus, so you have longer for the funds to grow overtime. Don’t forget to take advantage of any employer-matching contributions at work, otherwise you could be missing out on free money. In addition, don’t forget to have a cushion in case any unexpected expenses come up, so it’s a good idea to try and at least get to having a few months’ worth of reserves sitting in an account for easy access so you don’t have to use a credit card.