It’s a new year and that means that no matter what happened last year, you can start over with a clean slate. Here are five things that you can start doing in 2015 to better your financial picture and start on a path toward achieving your financial goals.
- Pay off consumer debt
Debt can be debilitating. That’s why my wife and I decided to pay off $52,000 in debt in 18 months. We were tired of being in debt and we knew that it was possible to pay it off if we developed a plan. I recommend using the Debt Snowball as a powerful and effective way to pay off your debt. It works like this: list your debts smallest to largest and pay minimum payments on everything, except the smallest debt. Once your smallest debt has been paid off, begin working on your next largest debt, and so on. This will help you build momentum since you are seeing debts disappear as you pay them off.
- Create and stick to a budget
Everyone wants to have extra money left over at the end of each month, but actually making sure it happens is another story. Creating a budget is a great way to take control of your finances so that you decide where your money goes each month, and therefore have money left over to work with. It doesn’t have to be a long process either. Here is a video to help you put together a budget in less than 10 minutes. One way to make sure that you can stick to your budget is to use coupon codes from a site like DontPayFull.com. This will help you reduce your expenses so that you can stay on track. Why pay more if you don’t have to?
- Automate your retirement savings
The average person aged 55 to 64 years old only has $103,200 in retirement savings. I don’t know about you, but I know that will not be enough money for my wife and I to retire on. To make sure this doesn’t end up being you, start investing today if you are not already. To make the process easier, consider automating your retirement savings. Most banks will allow you to set up an automatic transfer each month to your investment brokerage. This will make the investing process so much smoother and will help make sure that you are adding more money to your nest egg each month.
- Start a “Countdown Fund” for different savings goals
A countdown fund is a great way to make sure that you achieve your financial goals. For instance, if you want to go on a trip to Europe in two years, and it is going to cost you around $7,200 to go, put $300 into a savings fund and countdown toward your goal. After the first $300 is deposited, now you only have $6,900 to go. Then $6,600 the next month; and so on. This way, in two years you will have the money you need to take your trip without having to go into to debt! My wife and I have been able to travel to Asia and to Europe this way, both times coming home without any vacation debt coming home with us.
- Start Making Extra Income
You can only cut your expenses so much in order to get ahead.. The other part of the financial equation is to increase your income. There are several ways that you can do this, but my favorite way is to create a side business. If you have a talent or a skill that you could use on the side to make money, utilize that to make some additional money. Perhaps you are handy with a computer. Did you know the average hourly rate of a computer technician is just over $15? Post an ad on craigslist describing the type of repairs that you offer. Tell your friends and family that this is something that you are doing on the side. You may be amazed with the response that you get and the extra income that comes with it.
If you want to get on track with your finances, these tips are sure to get you started on the right foot. Don’t hesitate, start today and who knows; you might just achieve your financial goals after all.