A new year means a new start, and for a lot of you, that may include getting your finances together.
Whether it’s saving more, or paying off debt, we found some simple steps you can take to get on track.
David Eldert is not a big spender, but he admits for years he lived in debt, until he found out he owed the IRS money.
“I came up with 4 years of stuff I had to pay back to the IRS which made it forced. When I found out I could because I was forced to, I just continued on.”
Eldert says, to really save, you have to believe you can do it.
“You’ll never get there if you don’t start,” said Tom Maynard, a Finance Instructor at Converse College.
Maynard says it’s all about babysteps, beginning with:
Goal Number One: Creating an Emergency Fund
“$1000 would be the first goal to work towards, then try to get to the point where it’s equal to one month’s take home pay, and then two months take home pay, and if you can get to where you have 3 months take home pay, then you probably have reached a level that, I’m going to guess on this, but I’ll bet you 10% of the American public does not have,” said Maynard.
Apps can be a big help. For instance File This gets you organized by tracking of your bills and account statements.
And “Level Money” follows your spending so you can make a budget and stick to it.
Goal Number Two: Pay Down Debt
Maynard says attack your credit card debt first. That usually has the highest interest.
The free app “Ready for Zero” graphs your progress so you can visualize your goal.
Goal Number Three: Save for Retirement
Even if you have a 401K through work, you should aim to save in an IRA, and contribute before April 15th for the tax benefit.
Eldert now has both an emergency fund an a healthy retirement account. He says if he can change his ways… So can you.
One more thing to keep in mind are mobile banking apps and credit card apps. Not only can they help you keep track of your spending, but you can also set them up to send you notifications when money is withdrawn… or when your card has been used without being present. That could help you avoid becoming a victim of fraud.