Do you want to learn about 12 easy ways to get your personal finances in shape for 2019?
Yes, there really are 12 easy ways to get your personal finances in shape for 2019. It’s always a good idea to do an annual review of your personal financial habits. Regardless, whether you’re diligent about paying bills and saving or you’ve fallen behind and never opened a savings account. Everybody needs to re-evaluate from time to time, and there’s no time like the New Year.
Take a Closer Look and See What Type of Improvements You Can Make
Doing so is always a big help to your financial picture. However, this is especially true for those who have overwhelming debt or regret not starting to save sooner. The secret to success is simple: don’t try to take on too many major changes. Instead, take small steps towards improvement, then add on.
Here are our favorite small, easy steps. Start each one during the month of January. We assure you that by the end of 2019 you’ll be in much better shape by this time next year.
1. Write Down All of Your Debt
Doing so can be depressing, but it’s the first step to improvement. Start by jotting down the amount of debt you have. Also, record what interest you are paying on each item. There are a bunch of online tools that you can enter this information into. They will help to put everything into order so that you can pay everything off the smart way. Even without a calculator, it’s smart to pay the minimum on the debts that has the lowest rate. Then use the rest of your available funds to pay off the one with the highest interest rate first. Then move down the line paying off each debt.
2. Make Your Savings Automatic
Saving is a habit for some. However, when making an actual deposit is too easy to skip. So we recommend that you set up automatic deposits right from your paycheck. Many companies offer this. And, it happens without any intervention from you at all. You can even set this up in with your online banking. You can arrange to have an automatic transfer from your checking to your savings account. There are plenty online tools and apps that can help this happen. One of our favorites is Acorns. Acorns examines every purchase you make and rounds it up to the nearest dollar. Then, Acorns deposits the difference into your account. Your bills will all be nice round numbers and those seemingly insignificant few cents will add up surprisingly quickly.
3. Create a Financial Anniversary Observation
Another one of 12 Easy Ways to Get Your Personal Finances in Shape for 2019 is a financial anniversary observation trigger date. You know, just like this review that you’re doing today? Add it to your calendar as an annual event so that you’re sure to do it every year. So if you are doing this every 2nd of January, you’ll remember it because it is the day after New Years. Looking at your financial picture on an every-year-basis gives you an opportunity to address changes that need to be made that you may have overlooked during the course of the year. This includes looking at the way that your investments are allocated and whether you’re saving enough, as well as changing withholding amounts or insurance policies to reflect changes in your personal life.
4. Put Everything In Writing
Are you the type that never took notes in school? Do you skip making a shopping list, then arrive home only to find that you’ve forgotten something that you really needed? There’s a reason for that – writing it down works! Not only is this true for incidentals, but also for goals. If you want to make sure that you stick to your goals, do more than just writing them down… send your list to somebody else so that you’ll be truly accountable for what you’ve put on paper.
5. Maximize What You Pay On Your Debt
Just because a credit card statement gives you a minimum amount you have to pay doesn’t mean that’s the number you should use. Always pay more! The lower your payment, the more you’re paying in interest. Your long-term goal is to pay off every bill in full, every time it arrives, but if you’re in debt and can’t do that, for now even paying an extra few dollars works to your advantage.
6. Use Alert Technology
I love this one of 12 Easy Ways to Get Your Personal Finances in Shape for 2019, mainly because I find technology has made my life so much time efficient. Almost every credit card company now offers text and email alerts to let you know when your payment is due or if it is late. If your debt isn’t to a company offering alerts, set something up on your own calendar to make sure you don’t miss a due date.
7. Always Organize Your Tax Documents
Something as simple as a tax folder or 3 ring binder is a good start. Whether you own your own business or just make donations to favorite charities, you’ll make tax time a whole lot easier for yourself if you set aside a specific place for keeping tax-oriented records. Set up a folder in your email account for online receipts and statements and a real folder for hard copies, and be diligent about storing records in them as soon as you receive them. Receipt bank has a nice tool to organize things.
8. Set Aside One Day Per Month Where You Don’t Spend a Cent
We all spend money mindlessly, especially now that the internet and devices like Alexa make it so easy to do so. By setting aside a single day where you don’t buy anything, you will make yourself more aware of the days that you are spending. Who would have thought that this would be one of 12 Easy Ways to Get Your Personal Finances in Shape for 2019?
9. Boost the Amount You’re Putting Away for Your Future.
It makes sense to focus on paying off debt, but don’t forget about your future. Just as you add at least $5 to your bill payments to help reduce your debt, do the same with your retirement savings. It might make you feel like you’re cheating yourself of an extra cup of coffee or take out lunch, but you’ll be happy about it in the long run.
10. Keep your eye on your credit report
You may not think about it on a regular basis, but your credit score is one of the most important numbers in your life. Having a good credit score is essential to getting the best interest rates on mortgages, car loans and other debt instruments, and watching it regularly will keep you mindful about continuing to pay down debt and avoiding taking on more. It will also help you see when something has gone wrong, including stolen credit cards or identity theft issues.
11. Know Your Worth
Have you ever sat down and added up all of your assets and debts to find out exactly what your financial worth is? It’s a worthwhile exercise that everybody should do at least once a year.
12. Look Closely at Your Withholding Amount
This final one of 12 Easy Ways to Get Your Personal Finances in Shape for 2019 is important for tax reasons. Are you expecting a big tax refund in 2019? It’s always fun to get that big check, but if you’re in debt, you’d be much better off adjusting your withholding to a more appropriate amount that will put more cash in your paycheck each week and then studiously use the increased amount to pay down your debt.
Questions About the 2019 Standard Mileage Rates?
Do you have questions regarding the 2019 Mileage Rates for your business, charitable work or medical mileage? You may call my office and ask for me, Alex Franch, BS EA at 781.849.7200 or email the office at email@example.com to secure help with your small business accounting needs. Also, you may book an appointment online here and you can meet with any of our tax experts. We are available by appointment at our three convenient locations in Norwell, South Weymouth and Dedham, Massachusetts.
Alex Franch, BS EA
Alex is a Tax Specialist and Partner at Joseph Cahill & Associates / WorthTax. He has a diverse background including a Bachelor of Science from Boston College in Mathematics and extensive military service. Alex is an Enrolled Agent and has a decade of tax preparation experience. He is passionate about serving businesses with tax and financial planning strategies. Mr. Franch is licensed by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA). He holds a Series 6, 63, 65, and 7, and by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Division of Insurance. Alex Franch is a registered representative of, and offers securities and investment advisory services through, Commonwealth Financial Network. He is a registered broker-dealer, Member FINRA/SIPC.
Sources and Resources
- Holiday Gifts with Tax Benefits
- Protect Tax Data, Keep All Sensitive Tax Data Safe
- Tax Reform is Confusing Part 2
- Tax Reform is Confusing! Here is a Side by Side Comparison Part 1
- Learn About This Year-End Tax Strategy
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- We Have a New Tax Preparation Office
- Emergency Savings: 67% of People Don’t Even Have $500 Emergency Fund
- Did You Donate to Charity?
- Don’t Expect the IRS to Take Your Word on Charitable Deductions – Substantiate
- Charitable Contribution: Tax Plan for Potential IRA-to-Charity Provision
- Home Office Tax Deduction Good or Bad?
- 529 Plan: Higher Education, Learning the Hard Way
- Minimizing Tax on Social Security Benefits
- Employee Business Expenses: Tax Reform Suspends Tax Deduction
- Preparing Taxes for 2018 and Beyond