So you blew your Christmas budget. Now it's time to think about the New Year for you and your money. Here are five WalletPop New Year's Resolutions to ring in better financial health from Mitch Slater, senior vice president and financial adviser at UBS Financial Services in Westfield, N.J.
Don't worry. None involves tighter abs or quitting smoking.Build an Emergency Fund
Being prepared in this economy is as important as carrying life insurance to protect your family. Treat the emergency fund as a bill you must pay first. You are paying your "future self" just in case. Put it where you cannot easily access it.
Get Back on Budget
It's not rocket science. Just put together a simple spreadsheet of what you earn and what you spend. Add in a second scenario of projections or hopes. This is the place to differentiate between the things you "want" vs. the things you "need."
Pay Down Your Credit Card or Other High-Interest Debt
Make extra principal payments and put them on auto-pilot. You just can't wish the debt away, but you can try to pay it down with determination.
Get Good Advice
Kitchen-table heart-to-hearts with your spouse about money are a good start, but you need to seek out an objective expert. Talk to someone you trust. Meeting your financial goals requires hard work and planning. You don't have to do it on your own. A good financial adviser or planner (ask for references!) can help you make progress and set actionable goals that will help you get to where you want to be.
It Pays to Pay Yourself First
I know I say it all the time, but this has to be your "money mantra" to survive out there. Whether it's setting up monthly or even weekly contributions to your retirement plans (increase that percentage!) or education plans, you have to do this first. There will always be something else that the money could be spent on. After all, the government pays itself first with every one of our paychecks.
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