October is National Financial Planning month. This can be a great time to put some more work into your financial future. Poor planning and missed opportunities from this year can hinder a financially secure 2017. Our credit counseling advice is to avoid this. Here are some key money moves to make before the year ends to keep your finances moving in the right direction.
Money Moves to Make Before the Year’s End
As the end of the year quickly approaches, many will begin to think about their finances for the upcoming year. However, there is still time this year to tackle your financial struggles. With financial priorities, such as debt reduction and preparing for retirement, planning is one of the biggest factors to achieving your goals. The key is not to wait until the last minute. Let’s get started on the important money moves to make in the next few months.
Budget Related Money Moves
Start with your budget. The first money move to make before the end of the year is to review and analyze your budget. This Budgeting & Daily Expense worksheet might be a good resource to help paint a clearer picture of your financial situation as it stands right now.
Start by looking for ways to save. Finding extra money in the budget will help you apply more towards your debts or add to your savings. This way, you can get a good head start for the new year. Review your budget and identify areas where you are able to cut back. Then use that money for the goals with the highest priority.
Plan today for a better tomorrow. How prepared were you for emergencies in 2016? If you answered, “Not great,” then it’s a good time to start thinking now about 2017. Start an emergency fund for ‘just in case’ situations. You never know when you are going to be impacted by an unexpected event, like a job loss or medical expense. Making the right money moves now ensures a better financial future. It can make the process of eliminating debt much easier too.
Credit Related Money Moves
Steer clear of bad credit. Remember that every consumer is entitled to one free credit report per year from each of the credit reporting agencies. We recommend visiting AnnualCreditReport.com to get free copies of your credit reports.
Once received, review your credit reports to check for any inaccurate information. Take immediate steps to work with the credit reporting agencies to get any errors corrected. A good credit history is crucial to better financial health.
Pay off what you can now. Reviewing your credit report also provides the opportunity to review your outstanding debts and develop a plan to get out of it. There are two main debt elimination strategies: the Debt Avalanche and the Debt Snowball.
The Debt Avalanche method involves paying debts in the order of interest rate. You would start with the debt with the highest interest rate. Then you would focus on paying off one balance at a time in order of interest rate, while still paying the minimum balance on all your other debts. You’ll pay off debts faster and pay less interest.
The Debt Snowball method involves paying debts in order of balance amount. You would start with the smallest balance (or if debts have the same balance, put the one with the higher interest rate first). Then you would focus on paying off one balance at a time, from smallest to largest, while still making the minimum payments on your other debts. Consumers feel a quick sense of satisfaction from this method. Both ways are very effective, so choose which method works best for you.
Other Money Moves
Take advantage of job benefits. The start of a new year is often accompanied by a renewal or new enrollment of employee benefit programs, such as retirement savings accounts, healthcare reimbursement, and wellness savings. Meet with your HR department to walk through any company benefits that you may not be taking advantage of.
Don’t wait until the last minute to prepare for a new financial year. After all, you will be rolling back your finances and personal credit card debt from this year to the next year. Devise a plan, learn from the mistakes and make the right money moves now for a better financial future tomorrow.
If you’re struggling to pay off debt, ACCC can help. Schedule a free credit counseling session with us today.