Are you among the millions who resolve to earn, save, or invest more money in 2017? If so, here are some strategies from WalletHub.com to help you get there. Learn how you can raise your credit score, stick to your budget, increase your earnings and more.
1.Thoroughly Review Your Credit Report
Thanks to the increased availability of free credit scores, most people have a good sense of their credit standing these days. Too few of us are familiar with the contents of our credit reports. Reviewing at least one of your major credit reports on a regular basis will enable you to spot signs of fraud before they get too serious. You can start by checking your free TransUnion credit report on WalletHub.
2.Pay Bills Right After Receiving Your Paycheck
Taking care of monthly obligations before allowing yourself to indulge in any luxury expenses is a helpful budgeting strategy, giving you a better sense of what you can truly afford and what you can’t. The best way to ensure success is to set up automatic monthly payments from a deposit account. This will add discipline to the process without you having to think about it.
3.Repay 20% of Your Credit Card Debt
The combination of a 0% balance transfer credit card and a well-crafted payment plan can help folks with at least “fair” credit save hundreds on finance charges while getting out of debt months sooner than they would otherwise. Make a plan to transfer and pay off 20% of what you owe over the course of 2017.
That would amount to about $1,680 for the average household, requiring monthly payments of $140 with a card offering 0% on transfers for at least 12 months. The sooner you can pay off what you owe, the better off your wallet will be.
4.Use Different Credit Cards for Everyday Purchases & Another for Debt
The Island Approach involves isolating unique financial needs on separate financial accounts, as if they are a chain of islands. The most basic application of this strategy is using a rewards credit card for everyday purchases that you can repay in full by the end of the month and a 0% APR card for revolving debt.
5.Add One Month’s Pay to Your Emergency Fund
Roughly 54% of Americans do not have a rainy day fund, according to the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority. Like someone without insurance, folks who lack an emergency fund. While we recommend ultimately building a fund with about 12 to 18 months’ take-home income, that won’t happen overnight.
6.Improve Your Credit Score by 20 Points
Less than 1% of people have perfect credit scores, which means nearly all of us have room for improvement. And 20 points is an amount by which pretty much everyone can improve their scores, regardless of the starting point. The first step in the credit-improvement process should be to get your free credit report and review it for errors. The grades on the Credit Analysis section of your WalletHub account will tell you what those weaknesses are.
7.Get an A in WalletLiteracy
Only 57% of U.S. adults are financially literate, according to a 2016 survey by Standard & Poor’s. So start 2017 by taking our WalletLiteracy Quiz and getting a baseline score. Then, throughout the year, study the areas where you struggled and periodically re-test yourself to gauge your progress. Your goal should be to get at least an A- by the time 2018 rolls around.
8.Focus on Your Physical Health
There is a clear connection between physical, emotional and financial health. Money is also our biggest sources of stress, according to the American Psychological Association. And people who get regular exercise tend to have better credit scores. This simply underscores the importance of not only getting your financial house in order, but also exercising regularly and engaging in other healthy practices aimed at reducing healthcare costs. It won’t be easy, but this is one resolution that will certainly pay dividends in multiple areas of your life.
9.Make a Realistic Budget and Stick to It
The best way to make a budget is to gather your bills from the past few months and make a list of all your recurring expenses. Then rank them in order of importance, with true necessities such as housing, food and health care obviously taking the top spots. After that, you can simply cut from the bottom of your list until your take-home exceeds what you plan to spend. Finally, keep track of your ensuing monthly spending to make sure you’re abiding by your budget.
10.Look for a Better Job
Sometimes, we get so caught up in spending less and saving more that we forget to address the other side of the equation: how much we actually earn. But the benefits of finding a better-paying job could actually end up outweighing all your other financial maneuvering put together.