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The Time is Now to Make Solid Financial Strides

Well this year flew by.  We are sitting with just 2 days left until 2018, so it’s a good time to reflect on what you accomplish (or didn’t accomplish) this year and what you can look forward to achieving in the new year.  While most strive for fitness goals in losing weight, maybe this is the year when you can really put your finances front and center and really try and make strides to get ahead.  Whether you don’t know the difference between a 401k vs ira, or looking to get out of debt, there are plenty of steps that you can take to get ahead further than you were the previous year and really be on top of your financial game this year and prepare yourself for having ample income to live off in the future.

Start Setting Goals

When it comes to your finances you need a place to start.  You need to look at your priorities and where you would like to not only end up this time next year, but 5 years in the future, 20 years down the road, etc.  If you want to save for a vacation, build up an emergency fund, and get out of debt more in the short term, and save for retirement in the long term, those are all ideas that you will have to decide are priority with your family or seek advice from a professional or a trusted family or friend if you are acting alone.

Be Frugal

Believe it or not there actually is a difference between cheap and frugal.  Cheap would be not tipping 20% on good service at a restaurant.  Frugal means that maybe you get rid of the amount of times you go out to eat and actually go grocery shopping and prepare meals at home.  If you can pick up lunch at work, getting carryout or going to eat for dinner, even stopping for coffee in the morning, those all can be avoided by going to the grocery store and prepping at home.

Create a Cushion

You never know what life will throw your way so it’s always a good idea to be prepared as best you can, whether that comes in the form of an unexpected auto repair, a medical or vet bill, or even worse, needing to covering yourself for a few months if you had a job loss and need to hold over expenses in the meantime.  If you can stash away a few months’ worth of income into an account and not touch it, at least you can give yourself a cushion if anything does come up and you won’t have to worry about putting on a credit card and getting further into debt. If need, take out an installment loan to right set your finances.

Automate Savings

When all of your money goes into your checking account there is more temptation to spend it before you even think about saving it, so if you can automate putting money into your emergency fund, savings account, and 401k account, you can get used to the money not being there each paycheck, and less likely to go on a shopping spree, spending money on unnecessary purchases that will throw your budget out of whack and not get you any closer to your financial goal of getting ahead this year.

Increase 401k Contributions

Speaking of 401k, I’m guessing that you probably are not where you need to be when it comes to the amount of retirement income that you will need to continue to living the lifestyle that you have right now, so now that you are contributing and are used to the money going there, it’s time to increase your contributions.  If you can increase even a percent a year, you will hardly notice the money missing from your paycheck a little at a time and in a few years, you can hopefully be maxing out your yearly retirement contributions.

Earn Extra Money

Sometimes freeing up extra money on expenses and reducing spending isn’t enough and you just need to generate more income.  You can either take items that are collecting dust around the house and put them for sale on either craigslist or eBay, sell your hobbies like say if you are good at making crafts, or if it comes down to it, maybe you need to suck it up and earn extra money from a second job of which you will have to sacrifice any extra time that you have and work even more hours, but if it gets you to your end goal, it is worth it.

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