By now, most of the resolutions made on Jan. 1 are in the wastepaper basket. Experience shows that most of them don’t last into the second week of the new year. But if you’re willing to take a second shot at it, here are some ways you can improve your financial standing in 2015:
Analyze how you pay your bills. Many, if not most, utilities, credit card issuers and merchants, give you the option of paying online. If you decide that is a good approach, give some thought to whether you will direct your payments to the creditor’s online payment center, or utilize your bank’s bill pay program. Either will allow you to make payments directly from your checking account and in some instances, automatic withdrawal is available.
These payment options have benefits. They save you having to keep track of payment due dates. The bank’s online bill pay keeps all your payment data in one site. It can save you time for more productive things.
If you prefer paper payments, get a system for storing all bills and receipts correlated to your banking. Set a time to review each month and balance your checking account. Having all your bank accounts – checking, savings and primary credit card all at one institution streamlines accounting.
Track spending. Knowing how your money comes in and goes out is critical to good management. Monitor accounts weekly. Watch for unexpected fees or unauthorized activities. Be sure to note ATM withdrawals as you go. Keep a spending log, either on paper or electronically, documenting every transaction and purchase. Trim if you need to.
Build a budget. Knowing up front where your money needs to go lets you make more confidant decisions about spending and investing. It is the foundation for your personal finances, a plan in concrete that keeps bills paid and allows for working toward the “rewards” of your labor – vacations and travel, further education and retirement.
A session or two with a qualified financial planner may be useful, especially as you embark on this resolution to make you money work for you. It can be done. Just do it.