I love setting goals. Making lists really lights my fire. Every December, I make a list of my money resolutions for the coming year. In fact, I recently reviewed my goal list for 2013, and was astounded to see how far I’d come in twelve short months — I paid off my car loan and student loans, to name a few.
And you can make it happen, too! Make next year the year you start taking care of yourself financially. Here are 15 money resolutions for 2014 pick and choose, and decide to start getting ahead!
15 Money Resolutions for 2014 1 of 16
1. Get out of credit card debt 2 of 16
2. No more new debt 3 of 16
You don't have to cut up your credit cards. You don't even have to freeze them. You just have to decide you won't take on any new debt this year. Don't finance more things.
3. Pay off the car 4 of 16
How much is left on your car loan? Can you refinance it? (Don't worry, we'll allow exceptions to money resolution #2 if you can get a lower rate it's technically new debt, but only technically.) What do you need to do to pay it off? Let me tell you, the best kind of car is the kind you drive without having to pay for it each month!
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4. Figure out your student loans 5 of 16
Get your head out of the sand and add them up. How many loans do you have? What's the grand total you owe? Start paying off the highest interest rate regardless of how high each balance is. Get rid of those, and you'll start to feel a little breathing room. I felt great when I paid off my student loans once and for all.
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5. Pay back your parents 6 of 16
Make this a priority. You can do what I did when the debt got manageable: set up auto-pay for the total debt you owe your parents divided by 12, and get that paid off this year! When my loan from the "International Bank of Mom" was $1200, I gave my mom a stack of 12 post-dated checks, and called it done.
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6. Max out your IRA 7 of 16
If you're eligible (meaning you don't make a ton of money), put your money in a Traditional IRA. Don't use the lender's target-date fund you'll pay too much for them, and you won't get a good return. Figure out a good way to pay $5500 in 2014 to your future self. With any luck, that $5500 will turn into $32,000! Behold the power of compound interest.
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7. Establish an Emergency fund 8 of 16
Life works better with a cushion. There are so many different opinions on how much money to put in an emergency fund, but the way I see it is simple. Think about the most expensive thing that can break, and the cost of replacement. Now you have your emergency fund goal. The only thing left is to fill it. Remember, we're not taking on new debt, so if your water heater breaks, you need to have cash on hand to pay for it.
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8. Figure out your company’s match 9 of 16
Does your company match a certain percentage of your income in its 401(k)? Are you taking advantage of the match? If not, now's the year. If your company will match up to X% of your salary, start putting X% of your paycheck toward it. You wouldn't turn down free money anywhere else, so why start here?
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9. File your taxes before the deadline 10 of 16
As soon as you get your documents (employers' deadline is 1/31/14), start filing your taxes. Any of the tax preparer software allows you to save and continue later. This is especially important if you think you might be getting money back. Your tax return can be a good source of ways you can fulfill the other money resolutions.
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10. Check your credit score 11 of 16
11. Learn something about investing 12 of 16
You owe it to yourself to learn about investing. This is one of my goals for 2014. It's silly to be afraid of investing. I mean, having babies is scary, right? Figuring out how to make your money work harder for you shouldn't be.
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12. Consider a new cell phone plan 13 of 16
There are game changers out there. Consider Republic Wireless. You could save a boatload!
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13. Create a vision board 14 of 16
What are you drawn to? What are you working toward? Cut inspiration out of magazines about what you want your life to look like in a year, five years, ten years… whatever! If you can see it, you can work toward it. Involve the family. Ask your husband what he wants his life to look like. What about your kids? Put your vision boards in a place where everyone can see them.
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14. Decide how you’ll reward yourself 15 of 16
There are a lot of goals in this slideshow. A lot of things to accomplish. How will you reward yourself when you reach a resolution? Treat yourself, friend. But small treats, not big ones. Think pedicures, not trips to Tahiti.
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15. Increase your net worth 16 of 16
Figure out your net worth before the end of 2013. How? Use Mint, but also use a spreadsheet. There's your starting point. Your baseline. You can start charting your net worth growth month after month. That's what I did. That's how I motivated myself. My net worth increased by over 100% two years in a row. Now, don't go calling out any hits on me it's not much money. But it's more than it was, and it keeps growing. That means I must be doing something right.
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