Updated: 12/29/2013 7:03 PM KSTP.com By: Megan Stewart
It's that time of year where more than 40 percent of us will make at least one New Year's resolution.
Whether you want to lose weight, get organized or quit smoking- only 8 percent of us will keep it.
One of the biggest New Year's resolutions is to get financially fit. This can be accomplished by keeping a budget and staying on track, but this can also be daunting.
Financial Advisor Elijah Kovar, with Great Waters Financial, said the best way to accomplish your New Years goals is to keep it simple. One of the best ways to do this is to set financial accomplishment by the month, instead of looking at a big financial goal for the entire year.
Take one or two items that you can cut back on to save some cash. You could start bringing your lunch from home, inviting friends over dinner instead of going out, and cut down on trips to Starbucks. If you can get rid of excess spending habits for one month, try it again next month.
Every family should have a budget to make sure they stay on track. A great way to start is with a budget worksheet. You need to keep track of all your expenses- both the fixed expenses like rent, and the variable expenses that change from month to month like groceries, gas and clothing.
The average American household has more than $15,000 dollars in credit card debt. Do the math. I have found people are more inclined to pay down their debt if they take the time to figure out how much it is costing them each month. If you can stop paying 19% interest on a $15,000 balance each month, you'll save more than $200 dollars every month! I work with people who are nearing retirement and I always tell them all the money they are spending on interest, could be invested in yourself and saving for the future.
April is a great month to work on your savings. Start by putting away as much of tax return as possible. The goal is to put at least 10% of your earnings into savings- both short and long-term. Short-term savings would be in a savings account or money market fund- something you can access. Long-term savings are your retirement savings, an IRA or 401(k).
Now that you've made progress on your budget, debt and savings, take a step back and do a little spring cleaning. Take a good look at your assets - is there money in an old account that should be moved? Do you have money in a low-interest savings account that could be put to better use? Make sure you have a well-thought out financial plan, and you are maximizing savings for retirement. That's what I work with my clients every day to create.