Ways to Improve Your Finances in the New Year

Many new year’s resolutions don’t make it past January. It’s unfortunate because it takes at least a month for habits to become...well, luckily, even with all the emphasis we put on the New Year, we can turn over a new leaf at any point in the year. 

Most of us have some area of finances that we *could* do better in. Put more away for retirement, work on building up savings, cut back on daily Starbucks runs. Wherever you happen to be with your finances, Forbes has a few ideas on how anyone can improve their financial health in the new year. Rest assured, if you fall off the wagon with the rest of us this January, they will be just as valuable later in the year when you are *ready*.

1. Create a will (or make time to review a current one)
Forbes reports that the majority of people over 45 don’t have a will in place (and we can assume that those under 45 aren’t a majority, either). Putting a will in place not only protects your loved ones, it ensures that your wishes are followed (i.e. do-not-resuscitate or other health situations in which you could be incapacitated).
If you do have a will, revisit it. Particularly if it’s over a decade old, or if there have been changes within the family (deaths or additions).

2. Bump up your credit score
Every credit score can stand to go up a few points, right? If yours is on the low end, start making it a point to pay bills on time and pay early when you have the cash so you aren’t tempted to spend it elsewhere. 

What if you already have great credit? Check on any outstanding loans to see if you can get a lower interest rate. If you are planning on taking a trip, some places will waive fees or other costs due to your stellar history – don’t be afraid to ask!

3. Clean up your retirement funds
It’s rare for people to stay at jobs like they used to (i.e. their entire lives). As a result, you might have a 401(k) or other retirement account floating around from an old job out there.. Consider rolling over any money from these accounts by bringing it to your current employer’s plan, or look into starting your own IRA (if you’re a job-hopper, consider the latter).

While you’re at it, revisit your contributions as well. If your employer matches or has other incentives, do your best to take full advantage. Why leave free money on the table, right?

4. Establish an emergency fund
Nobody likes to think about the possibility of losing their job (and not being able to find another quickly), or that they could be seriously injured or die. But unfortunately these things do happen, and preparedness is a must. Bump up your savings, look into disability insurance or evaluate your life insurance plan.

Setbacks might happen. They probably will, to be honest. The important thing is to stay on track and work around any issues that might pop up throughout the year. Remember, you can set and achieve goals any time of year. Calling it a “New Year’s Resolution” is hardly the magic effect that makes it possible.