Everyone knows that New Year’s resolutions don’t actually start until January 2nd. So, today is the day! Chances are, you have secretly resolved to get into better shape, get more organized, be better about your finances and improve your social media game. If, between your plank challenge and the selfie retakes, you’re already feeling like you’ve bit off more than you can chew, we get it. Nobody’s perfect. Rather than juggling a list of goals for the rest of the year, we encourage you to focus on one. If you set out to do one thing this year – just one thing in the next 363 days – choose from the list below. Completing any one of these priorities will make 2018 a financial success.
Contribute More to your 401(k) or other Employer Retirement Plan. Increase your contributions to your workplace retirement plan to at least the amount that your employer is willing to match. Already maximizing the company match? Increase your contributions by another 1% by year-end.
Stash Cash. Set aside enough cash to cover three months of living expenses to be available in case of emergencies. Even when interest rates on cash are low, the value it can bring in a crunch – compared to say, charging on a high interest credit card – may far exceed lost earnings.
Categorize Your Cash. Categorize your spending into three types: essential (like mortgage, rent, utilities and food), discretionary (think Netflix, shopping or entertainment) and savings (such as emergency fund, retirement plans or investment account). If you aren’t allocating at least 20% of your after-tax income toward savings, identify a discretionary expense or two that you can cut back on during the year.
Check Your Credit. Request a free credit report online from an online provider such as freecreditreport.com, creditkarma.com or annualcreditreport.com. More importantly, review your report for damaging errors or potential fraud.
Create an Estate Plan. If you’re married, own a home or have children, create an estate plan; this is your rulebook for what happens upon your incapacitation or passing. Learn more about the key documents of an estate plan here.