Make improving your finances a New Year's resolution

After the clock strikes midnight on Dec. 31 and the night’s festivities turns into the dawn of the first day of 2016, you may ask yourself: “What goals should I set this year?" One New Year’s resolution may be to lose weight. Another may be to eat healthier. A third may be to take an honest look at your personal finances and see what changes can be made in 2016 to improve your finances.

Taking a few steps today will help put you on better financial footing a year from now, when you’re again thinking about next year’s goals. Here are some things you can do to become a better money manager:

Pay down your debt

If you owe a lot of money, especially unsecured debt such as credit cards and personal loans, make it a priority to pay down these balances next year. Carrying a huge debt load affects your credit score as well as limits the amount of discretionary funds you have available to do the things you really want to do.

Build an emergency fund

Another good way to improve your finances in 2016 is to begin setting aside money for an emergency fund to cover unexpected expenses such as car repairs, loss of income or unforeseen travel expenses. The easiest way to do this is to set up automatic deductions from your paycheck into a separate bank account that you’ll dip into only for emergencies.

Review your credit report

If you’re planning on buying a house or a new car in 2016, it’s good to review your credit report months ahead of when you actually apply so you’ll have the time to address any issues that come up in your credit report. Adverse credit reports and credit scores may affect your mortgage rates, credit card approvals, apartment requests or even your job application.

Also, reviewing your credit reports help you detect if you’ve become a victim of identity theft and give you time to correct them. By law, you’re entitled to a free credit report every 12 months from the three major credit reporting companies. Go to www.annualcreditreport.com to get a free copy.

Establish a regular savings plan

This may be a challenging task if you’re already trying to pay off a lot of debt and want to build an emergency fund. Even so, establishing a regular savings plan is a good financial habit that stays with you throughout your life.

Some ways to make room in your budget for a regular savings plan would be to cut back on discretionary spending, such as the number of visits to your favorite coffee shop or the number of times you eat out for lunch during the work week. Instead, save this money and over time you’ll have built a little nest egg for yourself, as well as developed the financial discipline to be a regular saver.

If you’d like to learn more about the ways you can save money, visit our website for more information on our savings account options:

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