Getting Financially Fit for the New Year

Jan 06, 2015

Here’s the skinny on shedding financial baggage in 2015

Resolution Bulletin Board

The holidays are over and while exhaustion and extra pounds seem to want to stick around, it’s important to not let one other thing linger--holiday debt.

With the holiday bills rolling in, January can be rather overwhelming. If not financially prepared, many find themselves starting the new year full of stress and excess financial burdens.

Instead of hiding behind your bank statements and bills, get control of your finances in 2015 and strive towards some healthy financial resolutions. Here are some tips:

Know your habits.

Meet with a financial expert to sort out your finances and understand how to best use money. If you don’t have a financial expert, use a spread sheet to help you organize and keep track of all your spending. There are also many applications you can download to help you.  Your bank may offer you some budgeting tools like Washington Federal’s snap! application.

Create a budget to help tackle debt.

Once you've been able track what you’re spending, create a monthly budget that includes everything from current savings and income to unexpected expenses. This budget should also include recurring bills, maintenance costs and any debt you have.  You may be able to find a budgeting tools that send you alerts when you've exceeded a budget in a particular category.

Once you're out of debt, start saving.

After paying off debt and getting ahead on bills, start saving any extra earnings. As you continue to budget and save, you will be surprised how quickly your funds will grow. Still need some ideas for turning the corner with your finances in 2014? Try these money-saving secrets:

  • Trim the excess. While we all get comfortable with the little luxuries in life, they aren't all necessary. Consider eliminating extra expenses like cable or even a house phone to help grow your bank account.
  • Go green and save green. Instead of driving to work every day, carpool to the office or use alternative transportation. The simple change can easily help you save.
  • Eat out less. From our morning coffee runs to dinners out with friends, eating out can get expensive and put a serious dent in your wallet. Try limiting the amount of time spent dining out.

Of course, being financially fit doesn't stop with a budget. It’s a long process. To help keep you and your family financially fit for life, follow these helpful tips from the financial experts:

Use credit cards sparingly.

It’s important to choose and use credit wisely. Know the interest rate before you apply for a credit card and don’t become a victim of short-term deals and rates. Limit the number of cards you have and always make sure to pay off the balance in full each month.

Know your credit score.

From buying a home to getting low interest rates on credit cards, having good credit is invaluable. If your credit score is low, work on getting it up. Checking your credit can also help protect yourself against identify theft.

Build an emergency fund and plan for retirement.

Once you get finances on track, start saving for things like an emergency fund to cover six months of expenses. And be sure to take advantage of your employer’s retirement plans.