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Planning ahead for New Year's financial resolutions

We've finally made it to the end of the year, and what a year we've had!

Hopefully, by reading this blog and working to correct your finances with us each week, you've seen a significant improvement in your financial planning. So to start the new year out right, check out this list of financial resolutions you can set for yourself to come out on top this time next year!

1. Prioritize Your Debts

As we discussed in a recent blog post on 8 Simple Ways to Pay off Your Debt, one of the most popular methods for debt repayment is the Snowball Method.

By determining which debt you can pay off in full first, you can focus on putting more than the minimum payment into it each month, while paying the minimum on other accounts. Then, once the first is paid off, you can apply what you paid to it each month to the next lowest debt you have, and so on.

By prioritizing your debts in this manner, you may just wake up at the end of 2020 a free man or woman.

2. Pay Bills as Soon as Possible

When bills come at the end of every month, it can be pretty stressful -- but that's life.

Don't wait around to pay them. Instead, pay as soon as you possibly can. Whenever you have the money ready, pay the bill, even if it's a little early.

The biggest reason for this is to avoid late fees. Nobody likes having a bill that's larger than it should be, and late fees can seriously add up if you're a serial late-payment maker. But another reason is to keep your credit in good shape and to maintain good faith with the company you're paying.

3. Add Money to Your Emergency Fund

The majority of people living in Americans as a whole have less than $1,000 put back in savings. If you're one of them, you could be blindsided by any sudden event life throws at you.

That's why it's critical that you always have an emergency fund. Realistically, the best number for an emergency fund is a minimum of one month's worth of living expenses. Ideally, that number should look more like three months' worth.

So start putting whatever you can back to create this fund. Even if you only reach a few hundred dollars, that cushion will help you through any emergency.

4. Improve Your Credit Score

In 2020, try everything you can to raise your credit score, even if it's only by a small margin. Every point counts toward being approved for jobs, vehicles, homes, loans, etc.

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Plus, you can make it a point to look at your credit report regularly to identify any errors or fraudulent activity. Each major credit reporting firm (Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax) keep detailed lists of points affecting your credit, so stay on top of them to make sure your credit consistently improves.

5. Study Financial Planning

Whenever you get the opportunity, read or watch videos online about finances and financial planning. Whether that means going to the library or combing through YouTube videos, any tiny piece of information you learn can help out tremendously with your future finances, and maybe even make you rich!

6. Try for a Better Job

This one might be a little tough for some of us, but if you feel like you could apply your services in a different direction or for a different employer who could pay you better or give you better hours, go for it.

So many of us find ourselves in jobs that we're comfortable with for one reason or another. Maybe it's because we've worked there for years and are afraid of change, maybe it's because we're afraid we won't find anything better.

But if you always keep your eyes and ears open, you may come across a new opportunity in Oklahoma or Texas that will be far better for your finances and your life.

7. Start a Monthly Budget

One key to becoming financially fit is knowing how much you spend on your regular expenses each month. By creating a monthly budget and sticking to it as one of your new year financial resolutions, you can see where your money goes and identify new ways to save. You might realize you pay way more for water than you did a year ago and analyze ways to reduce that cost. Or you could notice you pay each month for a streaming video service you never use.

By keeping track of your expenses, you can make changes when needed and also find ways to stretch your budget further each month. Turn it into a game. How much can you reduce your spending without changing your quality of life? You may be surprised by your creative answers. 

8. Start a New Year's Retirement Savings Plan

In addition to having an emergency fund, you should also put away funds for your retirement, no matter how young you are. Open a personal IRA account or up your monthly contribution to your 401(k) at work. You will never regret putting away more money for the future, which makes this one of the best financial resolutions you can make for the new year. 

9. Save for Big-Ticket Items in Advance

Each year, you can plan for big items you want to purchase. Say you plan to buy a new car in September. You can put away money for a down payment in the months leading up to that date. Look at your calendar and plan based on your financial situation, too. You may want to make your big purchases in May, after you receive your annual tax refund, for example. 

By setting and keeping these financial New Year's resolutions, you will find yourself in a much more favorable fiscal position a year from now. Happy New Year from the team at Atlas Credit!

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