If one of your New Year’s resolutions for 2012 is to improve your finances in some way, join the club.
According to a survey from TD Ameritrade, 73% of Americans will make at least one money-related New Year’s resolution. Regardless of your current economic circumstances, here are 12 crucial and doable financial goals worth putting on your list of New Year’s resolutions for 2012 – along with some tips and resources to ensure your financial success.—Lynnette Khalfani-Cox, Askthemoneycoach.com
All images: Thinkstock
2. Reduce debt
Consumer Reports has found that in late 2011, 14 million Americans were still paying off their holiday bills from 2010. If you haven’t been able to get out of credit card debt on your own, try boosting your financial fitness by joining a free financial boot camp offered online like MyMoneyCircles.com. This practical, step-by-step program, which I help lead with a team of experts, will help you reduce debt, figure out how to save money and reach a host of financial goals, including all of the financial New Year’s resolutions on this list.
4. Increase your savings
Don’t feel like you can save more money—or are you simply fed up with getting next to nothing on the savings you are stashing away? Maybe the best way to begin saving more money is just by getting a different savings account; online savings accounts boast rates that are sometimes five times the national average.
Use MoneyRates.com to find which banks are offering the highest interest rates on savings accounts, CDs and money market accounts.
5. Create a will
This is one of those tasks that most people procrastinate about and never seem to find the time to do. To overcome this obstacle, just tell yourself that if you finally create a will in 2012, it will be a major “to do” item that you can scratch off your list. Creating a will doesn’t have to be expensive either. You can create an affordable online will for just $69 at LegalZoom.com or Nolo.com.
7. Schedule an appointment with a financial advisor
It’s always a good idea to get a qualified professional to take an independent look at your overall financial picture. To find an affordable, fee-only financial advisor, get a referral from the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors. The beginning of the New Year is a great time to set up a consultation with an accountant or financial advisor who can tell you everything from what areas of your finances could stand improving to overlooked ways you can save on your taxes.
9. Organize your financial paperwork
Before you file your taxes or meet your accountant/financial advisor, take some time to organize your financial records. Use whatever system works for you: including keeping paperwork in a file cabinet or an accordion folder. For electronic storage of your records, check out NeatReceipts an easy-to-use, lightweight product that helps you quickly scan and organize all kinds of paperwork, including pay stubs, receipts and business cards. The NeatReceipts scanner also lets you export financial records from your computer to Excel and tax preparation programs like Quicken.
Living within your means is about budgeting your purchases, and having the courage to be honest about what you can and can’t afford.