As the New Year begins we are refreshed with that feeling that we’re getting a new start. That enthusiasm shouldn’t be underestimated. January is a great time to really get going on some great financial goals. Here are 10 important things that you can do now to get yourself into a better financial position in the New Year.
- Invest the remainder of your 2010 budget. If you made a budget for 2010 and were frugal enough to have some left over in the New Year then take advantage of your wise ways. Instead of wasting that money because it’s available, invest it now. You can stick even small amounts in online banks where they can earn interest throughout the New Year.
- Make smart choices with the Christmas gifts you’ve received. Each year we receive gifts from others. Some are brand new items that we will enjoy and use. However, many are items that we either won’t use or items that replace old version of things that we already own. Either way, we’re left with something that we can sell now. For example, if you received a new mp3 player that you really like then put your old one up for sale online. If you received new sweaters that are nice but not your style then take them to the local used clothing store and see if they’ll purchase them from you.
- Do some seasonal de-cluttering. It’s not just your new Christmas gifts that can be sold. It’s a great time to go through your home and de-clutter, selling off the old books, movies, toys, clothes and furniture that you don’t need. The money that you get can go straight into your savings account to start the New Year at a financial advantage. Remember that if you have items that you can’t sell, you may be able to re-gift them to someone later in the year, saving you the cost of buying birthday and anniversary presents in 2011.
- Go green. Many of the energy-saving earth-saving actions that we can take will also save us money in the New Year. If you need new appliances this year, make sure that they’re energy-efficient. Start making your own household cleaners. Make an effort to reduce the amount of heat and air conditioning used in your home. Make this year a green year and you’ll save more green yourself!
- Create your 2011 budget. Looking honestly at your finances at the start of the year and making a month-by-month budget is absolutely invaluable. You need to know what you’re earning, where that money is going and what indulgences you’d like to enjoy in the New Year. Remember to include all of the basics (mortgage, groceries, etc.) as well as the occasional expenses (haircuts, clothing) and the indulgences (vacations, summer classes).
- Review your regular expenses. It’s always good to take a hard look at what you’re spending your money on. Just because an expense fits in your budget doesn’t mean that it’s necessary. The New Year is a good time to review your regular expenditures, especially subscriptions and memberships, to determine whether they are still worth their cost to you. You may find that you have new priorities as you kick off a new year.
- Deal with your 2010 taxes. Don’t wait until April to figure out what is going on with your income taxes this year. You want to know at the start of the year what you’re dealing with. If you’re lucky then you’ve got money coming back to you that you can use to add to your New Year savings. If you’re going to owe money then it’s important to have that information so that you can work that into your budget for the year.
- Set a goal for your earnings. Finances consist not only of what you spend and save but also of what you earn. Make it a goal to earn a little bit more this year than last year. There are many ways to do that including working more hours, asking for a raise, picking up a second seasonal job, and doing some freelance work or consulting on the side. Your additional income goal doesn’t need to be large; make it reasonable and achievable.
- Create your emergency fund (or add to the existing one). If you do not have an emergency fund then make that your New Year’s resolution. Having this money set aside is crucial to your financial security, helping you through various tough times throughout the year without compromising the budget you’ve created or causing you to rack up difficult-to-repay debt.
- Start saving for next year’s holidays. The holidays go much more smoothly if you start setting aside money for them in January. Your bank may have a Christmas Club account that you can use or you may want to just start setting aside that extra money in your personal savings account. You’ll be glad next year that you took this step now!
What is your biggest financial wish for 2011? Leave your answer in the comments!