Wow did 2017 fly by and we are just under two weeks until we hit 2018, so although we may not have hit our resolution, well probably at all this year, let’s not make this upcoming year be another that goes by wondering we have accomplished. Like most that open gym memberships and pack the machines for the first few months of the year, only to give up and pretty soon continue to pay for your monthly membership without going, sure weight is important, but your finances take the cake when it comes to priority. After all, while retirement may be decades down the road, that is all the more reason to set yourself up for success now, and starting with smart money moves now can turn 2018 into a success going forward.
Gather Up Donations
For tax purposes, you still have a week and a half left to gather up clothes and household items that you are able to part with to give a better home with those that are less-fortunate. It’s a good idea to clean out your closet every year anyways, getting rid of clothes that you no longer wear (or don’t fit anymore, good or bad, but probably bad), not to mention taking a look at the basement storage area to see what is collecting dust, which is a pretty good sign you no longer need that item.
Contribute to Retirement
Sure, extra money may be hard to come by, especially at this point of the year with Christmas shopping in full force (you have 4 shopping day left, if you count Christmas Eve), but if you have anything sitting there at all it’s a good idea to put towards 401k or IRA, at which you can find out the best roth ira providers, to take advantage of pre-tax income that can be used to ease your tax burden when it does come time to filing. If that is not an option, then setting up an increase starting with your first paycheck in 2018 will be a good way to start out 2018 saving for the future.
Create a Budget
Money is tight, I get it, so if you need to free up extra money in order to have more to contribute to retirement then something has to give, and a budget is a great way to not only see where the money is going, but allot funds in areas such as monthly bills, food, gas, and even spending money. If you are looking for a place to start, then taking a look at last month’s debit or credit card statement will give you and idea of how much you have been spending, not to mention seeing where you can cut going forward.
Unnecessary expenses are a good place to start when it comes to freeing up extra money, and one of the ways you can add up the savings the quickest, and probably the most, is eating out, whether that is stopping for coffee in the morning, picking up lunch at work, or going out to eat, and even going to bars on the weekends. While going out to eat and bar is a must at times, if you can reduce and go grocery shopping instead, you can probably save hundreds each month without even trying. That will make you second guess going out when you look back and see how much you have been spending.
Have a Plan of Attack
No matter if you are handling the household finances on your own, or for your family, it’s a good idea to consult with someone, whether it’s a professional, or a friend, family member, or significant other that you can work along side with to figure out your best plan forward. Everyone may have different priorities, but that is something to think about, whether it is hitting a certain savings goal, having an emergency fund, or being able to travel.
Start Saving for Fun Now
While sure, it is important to stay out of debt, reduce spending to free up money, have an emergency fund, and save for the future, but where does fun come? Just because you are focused on saving doesn’t mean that you have to miss out on life experiences, which are extremely important to maintain a positive attitude and stick to the plan, but also being able to maybe budget for vacations in advance to have the money saved, without having to put on a credit card and getting into debt, especially if money is tight and you’re not sure you can pay back for a while, paying interest in the meantime.