New Year’s is a time for change, and chances are you’re already thinking of all the ways you can improve in 2020. But while you have resolutions on the brain, why not take some time to think about what you can do this month to be better with your money? After all, the beginning of a new year (and decade!) is a prime opportunity for self-improvement. Here are five tips to improve your finances in January.
1. RESET YOUR BUDGET
If you went a little overboard with your holiday shopping this year, you’re not alone: More than a quarter of consumers anticipated going into debt over the holidays. Resolve to get your spending back on track by taking a closer look at your budget. By how much did you go over? Are there places you can trim over the next few months to get back on track? While you’re at it, think about whether last year’s budget makes sense for the expenses and goals you’ll have in the new year. Use a monthly budget calculator to help track your spending if you’re not sure where your money is going. This information can help you come up with a new budget that you can stick to.
2. START SAVING FOR A GOAL
Looking ahead for 2020, ask yourself what you really want to accomplish this year. If you’re set on buying a home, starting a family or taking a vacation, be sure to map out how much you need to save each month to get there, and by when. Even if your goals are more along the lines of boosting your financial security, such as by creating an emergency fund or saving for retirement, starting saving sooner rather than later — it will only help you in the long run.
3. BOOST YOUR FINANCIAL KNOWLEDGE
A new year can be a boon for motivation, and one way to harness that is by educating yourself about financial topics that are new to you or that you need a refresher on. Whether it’s reading up on tax-law changes that could impact you or brushing up on your credit score knowledge, it's never too late to get smarter about your finances.
4. GROW YOUR PROFESSIONAL NETWORK
If you’re thinking about changing jobs, the beginning of the year is as good a time as ever to make a move. Make sure to update your resume, as many companies will have their budgets approved for the year and will be ready to hire. And aim to schedule some coffee dates with people in your network – 70 percent of professionals are hired at companies where they have a personal connection.
5. START YOUR TAX PREP
When it comes to your taxes, it pays to be early. No two tax situations are alike (or entirely straightforward), so whether you live and work in different states or own a small business, you’ll thank yourself later for starting the process early. And if you decide to let a professional handle the forms, get in touch with a tax preparer well before the April 15 deadline to avoid scrambling or competing for a last-minute appointment.