It’s almost 2012 and that means only one thing! No, not that it’s time to find that perfect sequined outfit for your New Year’s Eve party…or that it’s time to start stockpiling survival gear for the Mayan apocalypse. A new year is a great opportunity to get on the right foot when it comes to your personal budget planning!
The U.S. economy is slowly showing signs of improvement, does your personal budget follow suit? If not, it’s time to start planning for the New Year! We’ve got you covered with these 7 simple tips.
Get Your Savings In Check
Take a look at your savings account and ask yourself “How long would my savings last if I lost my job?” Financial planners recommend that you have at least 6 months worth of savings tucked away for an emergency. If you’re living on the edge, it’s time to fix that with a little personal budget planning. Try to set up automatic deposits from your paycheck to your savings account. This way, you don’t have to actively transfer or remember to deposit money into your savings. If you’re not saving any money, don’t wait for 2012 – start right now!
Learn Yo Self
Take some time this year to understand some of the more complicated aspects of financial planning. It’s kiiiiiind of similar to “Treat Yo Self” from Parks & Recreation, only this is about understanding money, rather than spending it. The first step to being financially savvy is by learning about some of the things that impact your financial decisions.
Find a cool, easy-to-read blog like, I don’t know… **cough** ZING! **cough** and find out what the difference is between interest rate and APR, learn about the different types of mortgages or the different types of credit cards. Armed with financial knowledge, you’ll be unstoppable in the New Year.
Examine Your Finances
Pour yourself a glass of wine or warm milk (your choice) and get all of your financial statements out. While enjoying your wine or warm milk, closely examine all of your finances. Have a computer next to you so you can research if you have the best mortgage rate available or if you could get a better deal with a different credit card company. It sounds time consuming, and it might be, which is why you have that delicious glass of wine or warm milk to keep you company.
Ugh – Look At Your 401K
This is something I avoid like the plague. And it’s not just because the market has been terrible over the last few years. Just thinking about my 401K confuses me worse than the particle that was “almost” discovered this year. And that’s pretty confusing.
But you know what, I will be intimidated by this beast NO MORE. This year, I will set up a meeting with my financial advisor and we will look at this madness and try to make sense of it all together. And I suggest you do the same. Check with your employer to find out if they offer free financial planning advice. If they offer a 401K, they should also have people available to help you make sense of it.
Get Life Insurance
I don’t care how old or young you are, you need to get life insurance. Your life insurance policy should be more than the “free” $10,000 or so your company may offer. Remember when you sat down with that glass of wine or warm milk? Now you should know exactly how much debt you have. At minimum, your life insurance policy should cover that amount. If you have a significant other or family members you’d like to have protected in the event of your death, take that into account when trying to determine what size life insurance policy is right for you.
Seriously, you are never too young or too old to get life insurance. If you don’t have your own personal policy, there are many affordable options available. Make an effort to protect your loved ones in 2012.
Quit Avoiding the Doctor
What does your health have to do with your finances? Avoiding preventable illnesses is a great way to save money in hospital bills over the New Year. If you don’t have a regular primary care physician, get one this year. It’s cheaper to visit a doctor’s office than an emergency room or urgent care clinic.
Budget For the Unexpected
It’s easy to set up a budget for your known expenses. Monthly utilities, car payments, mortgage or rent – these are all expenses that you can count on to occur. But what happens when your precious cat gets sick, or if your car breaks down? An emergency fund that is separate from your savings account can be a lifesaver in times like these. Make an effort to grow your rainy day fund in 2012 so if a problem comes up you don’t have to resort to dipping into your savings account.
Each New Year presents a great opportunity for a fresh start. Set some goals for yourself and try to achieve them. Don’t beat yourself up if you aren’t able to meet all of your financial goals in 2012. Keep trying and you’ll get there. Or the Mayan apocalypse will happen and money won’t really matter anymore. Let’s all hope for the former rather than the latter.