INSIGHT

Financial Resolutions for the New Year

Blog Author - Sherry Noyes
Sherry Noyes

 Tags: Savings

The old year is over, the new one has just begun. That means we’re all making resolutions to eat less and exercise more.

roll of bills with this is my year to save

But our physical health isn’t the only thing we need to be focused on in 2019. Our financial health could use a bit of attention as well. Check out these five tips and make some resolutions to improve your finances in 2019.

Save.

Setting up an automatic savings plan is one of the best things you can do for yourself and your family. While financial experts recommend saving at least 15 percent of your annual income, 20 percent of Americans save nothing at all, and most save 5 percent or less. When life throws you a curve ball, a lack of savings can be disastrous. You need money to sustain yourself if lean times come. Please, go online today and set up an automatic payment from your checking account into your savings account. Start small, maybe $10 a week. But start!

Follow the Money.

If money runs through your fingers like water, and you have no idea where it all goes, the best way to control your money is to track it, almost as if it were a suspect in a TV crime show. Keep track of receipts for a month, or two, or three, and you’ll be able to create a realistic picture of where your money is actually going. If this forensic examination reveals some unpleasant surprises—maybe your money is hanging out in fancy restaurants a bit more than you realized—it may be time to institute some changes.

Take the Money.

If your job comes with a 401K plan that includes an employer match and you haven’t taken advantage of that yet, what are you waiting for? Do you think you can’t afford to set aside a small percentage of your before-taxes paycheck? In truth, you can’t afford not to. An employer match is free money that, over the course of your working years, can truly add up. It’s there for the taking. Don’t leave it on the table.

Reduce Debt.

A lot of us wake up after the holidays with a pretty serious credit card debt hangover, and surveys indicate the problem gets a little worse each year. In 2015, the average post-holiday debt was around $986. In 2016, it was $1,003. In 2017, it was $1,054. You can see where this is going. It takes most consumers three to four months to pay down that holiday spending spree. If that’s the boat you’re in, pay off those cards as soon as you can, and take steps to prevent a repeat in 2019. Open a Christmas savings account—even if it’s just an envelope in your desk drawer—and set aside money for gifts this year.

Inform Yourself.

More education is never a bad idea. At Mascoma Bank, we want to enable you to be your best financial self, and to that end we offer Banzai financial literacy programs for youth, teens, and adults. The courses for kids are used in schools around the region, but adults, too, can gain lots of financial knowledge through the interactive articles and courses on the website. Whether you want to know more about insurance, retirement planning, buying a house, or establishing a budget, Banzai can help you make informed decisions. Explore Banzai at mascomabank.learnbanzai.com