Year-End Financial Check-up
As 2009 draws to a close, will you look upon it as the year you got your finances under control or the year your spending spun out of control? Or maybe you’re just grateful you made it through the recession relatively unscathed but know you could do a better job managing your money.
Before the new year begins, take some time to review your finances so you can start 2010 on sound footing. Below are some tips to help you better manage your money.
Create a budget you can stick to. Each January you resolve to create a budget and stick to it, but by July your good intentions have become empty spreadsheets. Use the long holiday weekend to review your bank and credit card statements for the past month to get an idea of how much you’re spending – and on what. Then follow these four steps to build a budget and learn how to actually stick to your plan.
Tame your credit-card debt. If you relied heavily on your credit card to get you through the recession, make a plan now to start wiping out that debt. Use the budgeting exercise above to find ways to cut back on your spending and apply that money toward your monthly credit-card bill. And see Early Warning Signs of Credit Trouble to find out if you need help from a credit-counseling agency to get your debt under control.
Make a commitment to saving. Ensure you have enough money for big expenses you pay just once or twice a year -- such as your insurance premium, car-registration bill or vacation tab – by setting aside small amounts of cash regularly. This way you won’t have to go into debt or raid your retirement account to pay these bills. See Why You Need Multiple Savings Accounts for advice on setting up your own savings plan.