After the doozy that was 2020, 2021 brings a whole new meaning to “new year,” doesn’t it? To kick off a much-needed fresh start, we compiled some common New Year’s resolutions and gave them a financial twist. Whether you choose to stick with one or decide to try them all, our checklist offers five ways to improve your finances in January.
GIVE YOURSELF A FINANCIAL CHECKUP
Now that we’re back from the holidays, prioritizing your health might be at the top of your resolutions list. So just like you go to the doctor for your annual checkup, consider doing the same for your finances — these recommendations for improving your financial wellness are a good place to start. From there, just as your physician would do, ask yourself some questions about your financial health: Do you have a budget? Is your emergency fund healthy? Do you have a plan to pay down debt? How are your retirement savings looking? If you’re not happy with any of your answers, a financial advisor can help you get on the right track.
PUT EXTRA MONEY TO GOOD USE
Resolutions often come about after reflecting on the past year, and if there’s one good thing to come out of 2020, it’s that staying closer to home meant less spending and more saving for many of us. If you find yourself with some extra money to start 2021, make a point to find a meaningful purpose for your extra funds. That might mean funding a financial goal or taking the plunge on that vacation home you’ve always dreamed of. Whatever you choose, remember that you deserve to find your financial silver lining and embrace it along the way.
BETTER YOUR MONEY HABITS
In January, exercising more and eating healthier go hand-in-hand, which makes it a great time to adopt some new money habits as well. But just like a sustainable diet makes room for some indulgences, good money habits include the occasional splurge. Get started by flexing your financial muscles and reading up on how making small changes to your spending, such as stretching out your grocery budget or lowering your monthly bills, can help you save more, reach your financial goals sooner and make room for the things that are important to you now.
BE SMARTER WITH YOUR DEBT
Many people chose to learn a new skill during last year’s quarantine. But if you didn't hop on the sourdough starter train or teach yourself how to knit, consider learning a different kind of skill in 2021: being smarter with your debt. By creating a solid repayment strategy and knowing how to prioritize paying down your debts, you’ll be making a dent in your balances before you know it. And if student loans are a part of the mix, note that the pandemic-induced forbearance period ends on January 31, so make sure to account for resuming those payments starting next month.
EARN MORE MONEY
In 2021, the “new year, new you” mantra still applies. So if you’ve set your sights on a new job to help boost your earnings this year, read up on how to look for a job even when the market is tough. Or, if you’re interested in creating a more flexible work schedule for yourself, here's what to consider if you’re thinking about freelancing full time. And if you’re looking to pad your income even sooner, consider these 12 online side jobs to help make that happen.