If you want to improve your financial wellness and take control of your money, a fresh new year can be a great time to start. Now that 2018 is here, let’s cover 5 good financial habits to build in the new year. These financial resolutions can help pave the way to a stronger, more stable future.
- Master a budget. A budget is a powerful tool to set priorities, achieve goals and build a solid foundation for your financial health. It’s practically impossible to get ahead without knowing how much money is coming in and going out. A budget can also help you be intentional about your savings, instead of just socking away whatever amount is left over at the end of the month. As you’re budgeting, explore ways to automate your savings—another great money habit to develop for 2018.
- Maintain an emergency fund. According to a Bankrate survey, about 25% of Americans don’t have an emergency fund at all, and 1 in 5 adults have some savings but not enough to cover the recommended minimum of three months’ expenses. Make 2018 the year you create, replenish, or grow your emergency fund. Having an adequate cushion in place is instrumental to successfully navigating unexpected expenses—which can happen to all hardworking Americans.
- Stay on top of your credit report. Your credit report is crucial: Lenders rely on the information included in the report to decide if they will lend you money, how much, and under what terms. Insurance companies, landlords and employers can also check your credit report as part of their due diligence process. You’re entitled to a free credit report from each of the three major bureaus (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion) once a year. If you notice any errors in inaccuracies, it’s important to get it corrected as quickly as possible by contacting the credit bureau and following the dispute process.
- Set aside time to manage your finances. Your financial health isn’t a “set it and forget it” task. Consider dedicating a few minutes each day to looking over your accounts for unauthorized charges and monitoring your balances. Set aside time each month to update your budget. Quarterly and annual planning sessions are also important for financial goal-setting. Be sure to involve spouses, partners, children and other members of the household along the way.
- Keep learning. Resolve to continually expand your financial knowledge by staying current with relevant blogs, books, podcasts and videos. In just a few minutes’ time, you can pick up valuable tip and tricks to make the year ahead a financial success.
Bonus: One money habit to avoid
Have you fallen into this financial habit? Leave it in 2017 and take a step toward a better year ahead.
- Saving your credit card information online. Setting up automatic payments can help make sure your bills are paid on time—but saving your credit card information on shopping and e-commerce websites can lead to impulsive spending. Taking the extra time to manually enter your credit card information can force you to reconsider a potentially budget-busting purchase. Plus, experts say you’ll be better protected against identity theft and fraud if you don’t store your personal information online.
If you’re working to build better money habits in 2018, RISE is here to help. Check out our free, interactive tools for setting savings goals and managing debt. And, with Credit Score Plus, you can get free access your credit score and credit alerts.