Tuesday, January 7, 2014

About Today: 4 Smart Money Resolutions for 2014

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Join a gym. Quit smoking. Find a new job. Go back to school. These are the sorts of life-changing resolutions people tend to pursue at the dawn of a new year.
But before you embark on your year-long quest for self-improvement, don't forget to set some big goals for your money, too. Here are a few resolutions that will help you get your financial house in order for the year to come -- and beyond.

Set Up an Emergency Fund
Okay, planning for financial disaster might not give you the same sense of satisfaction as, say, dropping 40 pounds. But there's a lot to be said for gaining some financial peace of mind.
Experts say that you should try to save three to six months' worth of living expenses in case of job loss, though that will depend on your own financial situation. And you'll also have to decide where to keep all that money; fortunately, we've got a few suggestions for the ideal account.
Sound like a good idea? Here's how to get started!
Search Related Topics:  avoiding debt  money management 

Get on a Budget Already
Of course, it's going to be hard to put money in an emergency fund if you never have money left at the end of the month. That's why this is the year you start living on a budget.
Don't know where to start? Take advantage of these financial software tools (many of them free) that can help you build and stick to a tight budget every month.
And if keeping under budget is proving elusive, more extreme measures may be warranted. Try out a no-spend month for the rest of January, or consider seeking help if you believe you have a shopping addiction.

Climb Out of Debt
Getting on a budget should help you avoid putting big balances on credit cards. But what if you're already up to your ears in debt?
Shedding debt is just as important as shedding pounds, especially if it's in the form of high-interest credit card debt. If you're truly swamped in debt it might take more than a year to pay it all down, but at least you can get started. Put together a plan for paying down the highest-interest debt first, and consider consolidating your debts if you think that will help.
And if you start to waver, just consider how much easier it will be to save for retirement once you don't have debt weighing you down.
Search Related Topics:  credit card debt  saving money 

Get Serious About Retirement Savings
Hey, speaking of planning for retirement: You should really do that.
Yes, once you've paid down your debts and gotten your emergency fund in place, it's time to get serious about contributing to your retirement accounts. For starters, look at your current savings and then use this guide to figure out if you're on pace for your target retirement.
Then it's time to figure out what you need to do get back on pace -- are you maxing out your 401(k) matching? Are you saving up to the contribution limit for your IRAs?
No, you're not going to hit your retirement goal by the end of 2014. But you can get yourself on track for a sound financial future.

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