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So, the buffalo wings on Super Bowl Sunday weren’t exactly part of your New Year’s resolution… or the late night bed time… or skipping the gym on Monday. If, between your ambitious resolutions and the leftover pizza, you’re 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 328 days – choose from the list below. Completing any one of these priorities will make 2017 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 accounts). 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 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 are 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.