It’s hard to ignore the pressure of a new decade. It feels like a chance to move on from the past ten years. Is 2020 the year that you will finally take control of your finances? If so, keep reading to learn how to make moves towards financial stability in the new year.
Create a Spending Plan
Be sure to know how much money you’re taking in after taxes, what you’re spending and how much you save. If you want to take that a step further, consider creating a spending plan. Not sure where your money is going? Track your spending using a spreadsheet or an app for 30 days. Determine how much money you need to cover your fixed monthly bills, such as your mortgage or rent, electricity, and other living expenses; the remaining amount is your monthly “fun money.” Take some time to decide how you want to spend your fun money: save for a vacation, enjoy entertainment, dine out more or less, etc. Creating and following a spending plan can be an adjustment, but it will be worth it.
Save For Retirement
It’s a good idea to save 10–15% of pre-tax income, including any match from an employer, starting in your 20s. If you delay, the amount you may need to save goes up. Add 10% for every decade you delay saving for retirement. Once you commit to an amount, consider ways you can save automatically. Research shows that saving is more effortless when you “pay yourself first” so, consider an automatic transfer into a separate account from your spending. Out of sight, out of mind.
Manage Your Debt
Debt is a practical necessity. It allows you to purchase an expensive long-term asset and pay it back over time, such as a home. The key is to manage your total debt load. Try to keep your total monthly debt payments (including auto loans, mortgage payments, and credit cards) to below 36% of your pre-tax income. It’s also good practice to avoid high-cost debt that doesn’t offer you a tax deduction, such as credit card balances. And, have a disciplined payback plan for all types of debt.
With the promise of a new year, anything can happen.