You don’t have to wait until the new year to start making resolutions and giving yourself the fresh start that you so desperately need, especially if that fresh start involves your finances!
The sooner you take the bull by the horns and give yourself a money makeover, the better it will be for you, your family, and your future.
With that in mind, here are some very effective ways to give yourself a financial fresh start right now:
Work on Your Taxes
Your taxes may not be due until April, but it never hurts to get a head start on them if you want to file on time, avoid financial penalties in the coming year and ensure that you get any refunds that are due swiftly.
So, take some time each week to update and check your records, and when the time comes to file, you can do so without delay.
Setup an Auto Deposit for Savings
Every family and every individual, for that matter, should have their own emergency fund, which can be accessed for those financial necessities that crop[ up and hit us all out of the blue from time to time; things like car repairs and medical bills.
The best way to build up such a fund quickly and painlessly is by setting up an auto-deposit so that a sum of money is immediately debited from your main account and deposited into savings each payday.
Because it is automatically deducted from your account, it won’t feel like such a hardship, and you are, therefore, more likely to keep adding to your fund.
Put Your Cards on Ice
If you’re one of those people who overspends every month simply because you always use your credit cards to pay for everything and you don’t exactly keep track of where every penny is being spent, putting your cards on ice (sometimes literally), and using cash could help you to spend less and save more.
Basically because when you spend cash, it feels more real to you and it’s a lot easier to keep tr5ack of every last cent you’re paying out.
Try it – it really does work.
Find Out Your Credit Score
If you don’t know your credit score, now is the time to check it out. You can do this by heading over to Credit.com. Bear in mind that your credit score is only updated every two weeks, so the information you see may not be bang up to date.
If your credit score is good, you need do little more than keep paying your bills on time and using credit moderately, but if it is bad, you will need to find out how to repair it and take measures to do just that.
The higher your credit score, the easier it will be for you to get bank loans, mortgages and vehicle finance when you need it, so this is a really important step to giving yourself a fresh financial start.
Take Out a Credit-Builder Loan
If you have a bad credit history or bizarrely if you have no credit at all, then your credit score, which we discussed above, is likely to be poor.
One thing you can do to change this is taken out a credit-builder loan, which will help you to show you can be trusted with credit. Obviously, only do this if you can actually afford to make the repayments on time, but if you can, it’s a great way to get back on the horse and give yourself the fresh start you really need.
Check Your APY
At least once every year, you should check your savings account to see what your annual percentage yield is.
If your APY is low and you can find a better deal elsewhere, then switching to a new account is a no-brainer, which will help you to start building up a bigger pot of money, even if you don’t get a raise or increase the amount of money you put into savings.
If you own your own home and you want to pay off your debts or improve your financial security, one way of giving yourself a fresh start that doesn’t just involve your finances is by downsizing.
Obviously, this isn’t for everyone, but if you have a home and it’s taking up more than 25-30 percent of your income in mortgage payments each year, moving to a more affordable place will make you a whole lot better off.
Consolidate Your Debts
Speaking of debts, if you have them and a lot of your monthly income is being wasted on debt repayments, and even worse, high-interest rates, you might want to look into using a debt consolidation company to turn your various debts into one simple, lower-interest monthly payment.
Hopefully, this should leave you with more money in your pocket.
Negotiate Your APR
If you have a credit card and you use it regularly, and that’s something you don’t want to stop doing, it’s always worth calling up your credit card provider and asking them to lower your annual percentage rate or APR as it is more commonly known.
You’d be surprised just how receptive credit card companies can be if you’re willing to negotiate and it could save you hundreds, even thousands of dollars over the years.
Transfer Your Balance
If you’re using one or more credit cards and you’re paying interest on them all, another thing that would help to give you a fresh start and enable you to clear your debts more quickly is transferring your balances to a card that has a zero percent introductory offer on balance transfers.
That way, you’ll be given a break from paying interest, and every cent you pay to the credit card company will go to clearing your actual debts rather than paying off expensive interest charges.
Utilize the Credit Ladder
The credit ladder is a simple concept whereby you sit down and take a look at all of your debts, working out when they have to be paid and how much interest is being charged on them.
You then place the debts that are costing you most, or which need to be taken care of most quickly at the top, ranking them by how much they will cost you.
Once that’s done, you concentrate on paying off the debts at the top rather than those at the bottom, which although you should still pay the minimum off, is not a priority right now.
Create a Budget
Creating a budget might seem like a lot of work and it may well bring to light some things that you rather not confront, but if you want to truly give yourself a fresh financial start and you want to build a solid financial future for you and your family, it is one of the, if not THE, best thing you can do.
Luckily, there are lots of great apps and guides to make the process as painless as possible; use them, and you will soon see the benefits every time you look at your bank balance.
It’s so easy to say and oh so hard to do, but spending less money is obviously a great way to improve your financial future. Start by tracking everything you spend for a month and then looking at the excess.
All of those daily coffees and trips to the diner add up, and if you can cut out even a fraction of them, you will be in a better position, financially at least, a year from now.
If you struggle with this, use the 30-day list – a list where you write down everything you want to buy and leave it for 30 days before making a decision – to help you. It’s amazing how the impulse to shop can be curbed by such a simple method!
If you haven’t already, now is the best time to start investing in your financial future. So, open a retirement fund, talk to a financial adviser about investing in stocks and start building a nest egg for your golden years!
Okay, so this piece of advice might seem slightly out of place on this list, however, if you are truly struggling under the burden of debt, and it’s got to the point where there is nothing you can conceivably do to get you back on track, seeking help with bankruptcy and considering it as a real possibility could be what you need to do to wipe the slate clean and get your fresh start.
It’s certainly not something should do lightly, but you also shouldn’t be afraid of the possibility if you know that it’s what you need to do.
Are You Looking for a Financial Fresh Start?
No matter whether your finances are already in pretty good shape, or you’re struggling with debt right now, you will be able to improve your financial situation and give your money-life a makeover by implementing some, or all of these tips.
The key is to actually do it…now!