So I’m clearly one of those bloggers that’s behind on the “here are my resolutions” posts. But I do have a legit reason! This year, I haven’t made any resolutions because I’m in the middle of moving – and figure there is no way I am getting organized or healthy when I’m trying to finish all the food in our house (read: pasta). But come February 1 when we are in our new home, my resolutions will definitely start — and one of mine is getting my finances in check.
I feel like money is something no one talks about – it’s like a wedding or buying a house. Friends – unless they are your besties – rarely share how much things actually cost, and sometimes I want to make sure I’m doing the right things with my money. As I look ahead to the rest of the year, I thought I’d share my goals for a better financial plan and how I hope to achieve this – but would love to hear your tips too.
- Get my credit cards in check: Since beginning the mortgage process, I have been advised not to open or close any credit cards. Once the papers are signed, I want to evaluate my credit cards and see if they are working for me. For example, I signed up on a whim for AAdvantage Card with Citi years ago because they offered 75k miles. While the card treated me well – and I was able to magically call annually and find someone nice to waive the card’s $95 fee – this year, the fee wasn’t waived. And to be honest, redeeming miles should be a full time job. An airline mile card for me just wasn’t worth it when the destinations I often visited never had convenient flight times or my friends were all flying another airline for a bachelorette party. Cash back is much more my speed, so I figure I will continue using my Chase Freedom card to get up to 5% cash back in select categories, 1% on other purchases. However, the Citi Double Cash Card has caught my eye and I may look to try this one too, especially in the months where certain categories aren’t at a 5% rate with Chase. I’m not a financial planner but my advice- find a card where the benefits truly work for you. Credit Card Insider has a great quiz to take to see which benefits make the most sense for you and your credit score.
- Budget: A budget to me is like tracking what you eat with My Fitness Pal. I’m gung-ho when it’s all salads and water, but terrible when I make bad decisions. This year I need to keep a budget tracker now that I have a mortgage. I will be returning to Mint, but am always open to recommendations. My husband always loves when I question his purchases before he walks in the door. 🙂
- Find Little Ways to Save: I’ve shared some of my favorite grocery stores apps before, as well as Digit, which slowly removes small amounts of money from your bank account and puts into savings. I’m hoping between our new grill and suburban grocery stores, I’ll be able to save a few bucks here and there by not dining out and shopping the sales flyers (I’ve turned into my mother).
- Continue to Max Out My 401K and Roth IRA: While it’s so easy to get wrapped up in saving for what is going on right now, I cannot forget to save for the future. For me, that means putting the most amount of money I can into my 401K that gets matched by my employer, and putting the maximum contribution into my Roth IRA. If you have been working at your job and don’t know your retirement benefits, make sure to ask – and subscribe to one of my favorite sites, LearnVest, for details on how to save.
- Make a Savings Goal and Stick to It: For the past month, my husband and I have been hoarding money like crazy (while still having a fun time out) and have been able to save a ton of money. What worked for us was having a goal at the end of the month in our checking account that we could transfer to savings. We also decided to put our money into Barclays Online Savings Account because it was the one of the highest interest rates I had seen – 1% – which is 10x the national average. While I don’t have a physical bank to go to and need to think through my transfers in advance, the return has been worth it. I may consider opening up a Barclays Dream Account as well – this is an account that has a slightly higher interest rate, but you can only contribute $1000 a month. If you don’t take your funds out though, you’ll get an extra bonus.