The beginning of the year is a great time to reflect on the past and consider ways we can improve our lives moving forward. A year ago I decided to lose weight … five mornings/week at the gym, eliminating sugar, a supportive wife, and a year later I’m considerably lighter [nearly 100 pounds]. This year I’d like you to consider ways to redouble your financial efforts … let me throw out a few potential resolutions:
Review Your Credit.
The beginning of the year is always a good time to review your credit report. Remember that you can do so once per year for free (from each credit reporting agency) at the government’s web site (http://www.annualcreditreport.com). You may want to review a prior tip on specialty reports to see if it is appropriate for you to order those as well …
Getting organized could entail a lot of things: starting a budget, organizing important documents, conducting a home inventory, or starting an emergency fund; all ideas that have been discussed in recent tips.
General Financial Review.
What do you have? What do you need? Do you have what you need? Do you have in place those things that will best meet those needs? Insurance policies, loans, investments and savings vehicles should all be reviewed on a regular basis …
Investing – “Do a little more”.
If you are doing nothing, start now … T. Rowe Price, TIAA-CREF, and Homestead Funds are examples of no-load mutual fund companies that will allow you to open an account with $0 if you set up an automatic investment of $50 per month (less with Homestead). Already doing something, do a little more – increase your 401(k) contribution; Roth IRA contributions are increasing to $5,000/year (more if you’re over 50) in 2008.
Get Rid of Any High-Rate Debt.
If you have high rate debt, now is a great time to work your way out. Several strategies have been discussed in prior tips – calling your card company to request lower rates, and transferring the balance to take advantage of a better rate elsewhere for example.
The potential positive steps you can take in 2008 are endless – my suggestion is to select one area to begin your focus. Perhaps it is something where you can make immediate progress (like reviewing your credit); perhaps you have loftier goals (being debt-free) … regardless of your situation or desired outcome, start today! Reviewing the archive of prior tips may be helpful in getting you started as well (http://financialsuccess.missouri.edu/archive).