The New Year brings the promise of new beginnings, so it is the perfect time to examine your finances and make some changes for the better. Good financial resolutions that you can stick to can help get you closer to your money goals, and keep you from making mistakes that get you into financial trouble.
The experienced Ohio bankruptcy attorneys at Fesenmyer, Cousino, Weinzimmer understand that financial problems can happen to the most hard-working and well-intentioned people. We offer a free consultation to examine your individual financial situation, your debts and your goals. To help you get on the path to financial solvency, consider these suggestions for resolutions that will better your finances in the coming year.
1. Make a Budget and Stick to it
It may seem obvious that making a budget and living accordingly is a first step to financial solvency; but, according to the National Foundation for Credit Counseling, only about 40% of adults have a budget. To get on track, examine your recent bills, list your recurring expenses, and then rank them in order of importance. Necessities such as food, shelter and health care should come first, followed by the bills you must pay, and, last, your optional expenses. If your expense list exceeds your take-home pay, start cutting from the bottom of your list until your budget is balanced. If you can, put money aside toward paying off any debts and toward savings. To make sure you stick to your budget, check your spending each month until you are sure it is under control, and then continue to do so periodically.
2. Eliminate Credit Card Debt
If you owe money on credit cards, it’s easy to get behind when you are paying over 20% in interest. Consolidate your cards by paying off any cards you can, until you are left with just two. One should be a card that gives you cash back for everyday purchases; use it to charge only amounts you can pay in full by the end of the month.
3. Know Your Credit Score and Get Credit Monitoring
Get free credit card reports from the three credit-monitoring agencies – Equifax, TransUnion and Experian. Review your reports to make sure there are no errors or signs of fraud. Sign up for free credit monitoring that lets you receive notification any time there is an important change to your credit report. Examine your report to see if there is anything you can do to increase your rating.
4. Pay Bills Immediately and Set Up Automatic Payments
Setting up automatic monthly payments from a deposit account will allow you to pay bills as soon as they are due without having to think about it. Pay any other bills right when they come in so you don’t put them aside and forget about them. You will save costs of postage and late-payment fees and will avoid negative reports to the credit bureaus.
5. Create an Emergency Fund
An emergency fund is a buffer against unexpected expenses and medical bills and events such as prolonged unemployment. Start with the goal of adding a month’s income to your savings over the year, and keep increasing if you are able until you have enough to cover your expenses for at least six months.
6. Find Where You Can Cut Expenses
You may be paying for extras you don’t really need — such as a home phone, extra cable channels, upgraded internet, and other services and utilities. If you’re not using services or getting your money’s worth, cut them back. Close unnecessary bank and other accounts that charge fees.
7. Examine and Take Advantage of Your Company’s Benefits
Consider increasing your 401(k) plan contribution. If your company has a Section 125 plan, be aware of what is available and take full advantage of the pretax benefits such as health savings accounts, dependent care assistance, adoption assistance, and group term life insurance. Speak with your company’s human resources department to make sure you are getting the most for your money.
8. Review Your Retirement Plan and Set Up Plans For the Future
Meet with your financial advisor to determine whether you should rebalance your portfolio. Set up an Individual Retirement Account (IRA), either traditional or Roth, which offers tax advantages that can add up to a significant amount of money by retirement. Set up a 529 plan for your children’s or grandchildren’s college education, as contributions are not subject to federal or state taxes when used for qualified education expenses.
9. Enroll in an Automatic Savings Plan (ASP)
Automatic savings plans force you to save, because the cash is drawn directly from your bank. You might be able to sign up for ASPs through a company’s direct stock-purchase plan, or for a similar service if you would like to invest in United States savings bonds.
10. Set up your will and power of attorney
If you don’t have these documents, make it a priority to do them now; if you have already executed them, review them to make sure they are not outdated.
Contact Us For Help, Answers, And Peace Of Mind
The seasoned Ohio bankruptcy attorneys at Fesenmyer, Cousino, Weinzimmer offer a free consultation to examine your individual financial situation, your debts and your goals. If your finances are so bad that bankruptcy may be your best option, we will help you get on the path to financial solvency.
A free initial consultation and careful evaluation of your individual financial situation by the Ohio debt-relief attorneys at Fesenmyer Cousino Weinzimmer will point you in the right direction and give you the information you need to help you decide on the debt-relief solution that is best for you. We know the courts and the system and are dedicated to helping you through your financial problems, preventing mistakes that can lead you further into debt.
Delaying can only make your situation worse, so call one of our conveniently located office branches at 614-228-4435 (Columbus), 937-222-7472 (Dayton), or 877-654-5297 (Cincinnati) or email today to set up your free consultation.