As you consider your resolutions for 2014, make sure you include some personal finance improvements in your goals. Luckily, there are certain steps you can take to improve your financial standing at any income level. Here are a few money-related resolutions that you might not have tried in previous years.
1. Check Your Credit Report
One of your long-term personal finance goals should be to reduce the amount of interest you pay. One way to work toward that is to check your credit report to make sure it is accurate. If you find any incorrect information, dispute it so your score can begin improving, allowing you to get lower interest rates in the long run. Even if you don’t have any mistakes, it might be a good idea to monitor your credit report to see if there are places that you can improve yourself. Here’s a good list of the best credit report monitoring services, including a completely free one. You can also look into credit repair sites like Sky Blue that offer basic credit repair for less than some of the scammy credit repair sites.
2. Reduce the Fees You Pay
Take a look at your banking and credit card accounts. You might be surprised at the amount of fees you have been paying. Your credit card might have an annual fee, and your checking or savings account could have monthly fees. Of course, most accounts come with extra fees when you pay late. You can minimize the chance of wasting your money by staying one step ahead of payment due dates. In addition, when possible, switch to accounts that do not have regular fees associated with them. If your credit card is charging you a ton of fees, think about switching to a low APR credit card. Here’s a good list of the best low APR credit cards.
3. Be Sure to Comparison Shop
If all of your accounts have fees, it’s time to shop around for better options. If you really like your current lender, consider calling and asking if there is a way to remove the fees or switch to an account that does not have them. If this doesn’t work, you can always check with other companies until you find a better deal that allows you to save money in 2014. You can do the same with interest rates on credit cards and loans, as well as plans for cell phone, cable and Internet. Simply taking a few hours to call around can make a big difference in keeping your personal finance resolutions for 2014. And remember to check Simple. Thrifty. Living. for our daily deals.
4. Make Passive Savings Work for You
If you do not have much free time, you can still set up some money-saving resolutions. Just focus on passive savings tactics. For example, if you don’t have time to clip coupons before grocery shopping, take advantage of digital coupons. Most stores now have free applications you can download, and they tend to contain online coupons you can quickly save to your shopper’s card. Even just following your favorite store’s social media profiles can give you access to coupons you can add to your card within seconds. A similar strategy is to use rewards credit cards so you can save money on items you would have purchased anyway.
5. Think Long Term
It’s tempting to only focus on saving money in 2014, but you should think beyond that. If you make resolutions this year to start putting money in a savings account, adding to your retirement account or paying off debt, you should be in much better shape by 2015. Then you can focus on simply maintaining your good money habits until you are in the best financial shape possible.