With a new year comes new goals and commitments to do better. While many of our New Year’s resolutions may revolve around health and fitness, don’t forget to prioritize your financial fitness.
From paying off debt to becoming a smarter shopper, you can make changes in your financial health that will have a big impact over the long haul.
If growing your wealth is your goal for 2024, here are some of the first money moves you should make during the first few months.
If you’re over 50, take advantage of massive discounts and financial resources
Over 50? Join AARP today — because if you’re not a member you could be missing out on huge perks. When you start your membership today, you can get discounts on things like travel, meal deliveries, eyeglasses, prescriptions that aren’t covered by insurance and more.
How to become a member today:
- Go here, select your free gift, and click “Join Today”
- Create your account (important!) by answering a few simple questions
- Start enjoying your discounts and perks!
Important: Start your membership by creating an account here and filling in all of the information (Do not skip this step!) Doing so will allow you to take up 25% off your AARP membership, making it just $12 per year with auto-renewal.
Set a savings goal
Do you want to go on vacation in 2024, buy a new car, or upgrade your appliances? Set a specific savings goal and open a high-yield savings account dedicated to it.
If a visual cue will help keep you committed to saving, create a reminder, such as a picture of a vacation destination, or use a jar to put marbles into when you reach small savings milestones. These visuals can keep you hyped about your goal when motivation runs low.
Check your credit score and report
You can request a free copy of your credit report from the three credit bureaus (TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian) each year, so start 2024 right by getting ahold of yours.
From there, you can inspect it for any errors and dispute them, which could raise your credit score and help you get better loan terms when you’re in the market for one.
File your taxes early
Getting your taxes done early will get the task off your plate, and you can often get your refund more quickly. If your taxes are simple, you can complete them with software like TurboTax or H&R; Block.
If your income is $60,000, you are elderly, or you speak limited English, a volunteer tax professional from VITA can help you complete your taxes for free.
For those with complex tax situations (if you own a business or real estate, for example), consider consulting with a tax professional to ensure you get all the deductions and credits you’re entitled to.
Resolve $10,000 or more of your debt
Credit card debt is suffocating. It constantly weighs on your mind and controls every choice you make. You can end up emotionally and even physically drained from it. And even though you make regular payments, it feels like you can never make any progress because of the interest.
National Debt Relief could help you resolve your credit card debt with an affordable plan that works for you. Just tell them your situation, then find out your debt relief options.
How to get National Debt Relief to help you resolve your debt: Sign up for a free debt assessment here. (Do not skip this step!) By signing up for a free assessment, National Debt Relief can assist you in settling your debt, but only if you schedule the assessment.
Pay down debt
The new year is a perfect time to ditch high-interest debts, such as credit cards. Try the snowball method, where you focus on eliminating the smallest debt first; or the avalanche method, where you pay off the account with the highest interest rate first.
Trimming your spending to funnel more money toward your debt is an ideal plan, but this may be tough to do if you’re already strapped for cash.
As an alternative way to make progress on debts with high interest rates, move your credit card debt to one of the best balance transfer cards so more of your payment goes to the principal than interest.
Check on your retirement savings plan
The new year is a great time to take stock of your financial plan as a whole, including your plans for retirement savings. Use a retirement calculator to see if your current savings rate puts you on your desired trajectory, and adjust your contributions as necessary.
Assess your insurance
As your family, income, and assets change, your insurance needs change too. Review your health, life, home, and auto policies to ensure you have adequate coverage.
Many people have received premium increases this year. If your policies have become more expensive, shop around and get a few quotes to ensure you’re still getting the best deal on your coverage.
Make a will
The new year is the perfect time to look to the future and plan for events that may occur far after 2024.
Even if you don’t have all the details perfectly hashed out, an imperfect will that names your heirs and assigns guardianship for minor children is better than none. Websites like FreeWill and RocketLawyer allow you to draft a will without hiring an attorney.
Read a personal finance book
Enhance your financial education this year by reading or listening to a personal finance book. “The Simple Path to Wealth,” “Rich Dad, Poor Dad,” “The Psychology of Money,” and “Your Money or Your Life” are popular books with timeless principles.
Whether you want to learn to make a budget for the first time or hone your stock-picking skills, you’re sure to find a book that can teach you any financial concept you want to learn about.
Ask for a raise
In January, many companies and organizations are hashing out budgets for the upcoming year, making it the perfect time to ask for a raise.
Start by building a case listing all your contributions and accomplishments. You might even gather information about the industry pay standards for your position in your region.
It might be a little nerve-wracking to ask for a pay bump but remember: If you don’t ask, the answer is always no.
Earn cash back on everyday purchases with this rare account
Want to earn cash back on your everyday purchases without using a credit card? With the Discover®️ Cashback Debit Checking account (member FDIC), you can earn 1% cash back on up to $3,000 in debit card purchases each month!1
With no credit check to apply and no monthly fees to worry about, you can earn nearly passive income on purchases you’re making anyway — up to an extra $360 a year!
This rare checking account has other great perks too, like access to your paycheck up to 2 days early with Early Pay, no minimum deposit or monthly balance requirements, over 60K fee-free ATMs, and the ability to add cash to your account at Walmart stores nationwide.
Don’t leave money on the table — it only takes minutes to apply and it won’t impact your credit score.
Start an emergency fund
If the last few years have taught us anything, it’s that black swan events happen. Nobody knows what 2024 will bring, so it’s best to be prepared with an emergency fund for any unforeseen financial problems.
Even if money is tight, commit to dropping a few dollars each month into a savings account for the inevitable rainy day.
Track your spending
It’s hard to know whether you’re making financial progress unless you’re monitoring your income and outgo. If you’ve been hiding your head in the sand about your finances, 2024 is the time to start tracking your expenses.
You can use a spreadsheet to manually record and categorize each expense or use a website like YNAB or EveryDollar to automatically import transactions from your bank and credit card accounts.
Reduce needless spending
If you have been tracking your expenses already, scan your spreadsheet for areas where you’re spending more than you want. A few categories that are common culprits of mindless spending are eating out, clothes, and impulse purchases.
Reroute your needless spending to savings, debt payoff, or another category that gives you more personal satisfaction.
Trim your subscription services
Subscriptions can be leeches on your budget: they won’t necessarily kill it, but they drain the lifeblood from it.
You might not even be aware that it’s happening. Scan your credit card and bank statements to see if you’re paying for a “trial” subscription that’s carried on longer than planned.
You can also rotate through streaming services to reduce your spending. For instance, you can subscribe to Netflix for a few months, then rotate to Hulu or Disney+ after you’ve watched the shows you’re interested in.
Negotiate your bills
Service providers tend to raise their rates over time, so it’s worthwhile to shop around for services like electricity, internet, cell service, and others. You can also call your current provider and ask if they have any retention offers for loyal customers.
Learn investment strategies
Your money can work harder for you if it’s invested in growing assets. There are hundreds of books, podcasts, and YouTube videos to teach you about every kind of investment, from stocks to bonds to real estate.
Great wealth isn’t usually built overnight. Most often, it’s the result of small gains day after day, year after year, that compound on one another.
These money moves are pretty small in and of themselves. But when you combine several of them, they can make for big steps toward a more stable, prosperous financial future.
Make 2024 the year you get ahead financially and achieve your financial goals.