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Article: This Year, Focus on Your Finances

Boost your financial game in 2021

The start of a new year is the perfect time for a financial wellness checkup. Try these five proven methods to improve your financial skills, and make the most of the year to come.  

1. Make a budget, and learn to stick to it.
Budgeting is one of the most effective ways to manage your money. Creating a budget allows you to consciously track your expenses, adapt to income changes or unexpected expenses, and achieve financial milestones. Budgeting can also help you save for emergencies and prepare for your future (including retirement).

Start the year off right, and make a budget that works for you.


2. Build your emergency savings.
Unexpected expenses happen, and they happen more often than we like. According to a 2018 bankrate study, 61% of Americans say they cannot cover emergency expenses over $1000 with their savings. According to the Federal Reserve, 44% of us say we cannot cover $400 worth of emergency expenses with our savings.

Learn what steps you can take this year to start and grow your emergency savings. Setting aside a little cash helps you avoid credit card debt when you need to get through everything from a chipped tooth to a loss of income.

Start with a small goal, like $400 or $1000. Or, if you’ve already got some money tucked away, flesh it out with a bigger cushion or a savings product with a great interest rate. You can do this, even if you’re saving just $20 at a time.


3. Take control of your credit.
Your credit score can have a significant impact on your financial security and flexibility. The better your score, the better your options for mortgages, loans, and credit card offers. But, many people have never had the chance to learn what a credit score is, what factors impact a credit score, and what actions to take to build a healthy credit score.

Take a few minutes now to understand the factors that impact your credit score. Everyone has the ability to improve, build, and maintain a healthy credit score, no matter where you are in life.


4. File your taxes early.
Taxes can be confusing, and many people get bogged down by complex terms and lengthy paperwork. But, your taxes don’t need to make you feel anxious. In fact, you can lower your stress by getting ahead on your taxes. You’ll know where you stand (are taxes due, are you getting a refund, how much) early in the year. Then, you have time to gather funds for any payments or plan how to spend your tax refund. (Pssst. See Emergency Savings)

Take just five minutes now, and learn how to make filing your taxes a breeze.


5. Plan for your retirement now.
1 in 4 American have less than $10,000 saved for retirement. Is it because we’re not saving enough? Not starting to save soon enough? Not saving at all?

While it’s easy to spend on your immediate needs and wants, saving for the future is just as important. (It may be even more important, because for most of us, once we retire, we won’t be earning an income anymore.) The earlier you start saving for retirement, the more you time you have to compound your savings, and secure a solid future.

Or, put another way, the longer you wait to save for your own retirement, the harder it will be to support yourself in your golden years.

Learn about your retirement options, like IRAs and 401(k) plans. Saving for retirement isn’t as complicated as it sounds, and it’s more important than you can imagine. How can you start saving something now?


Happy New Year! Your someday starts today.

Step into the new year with new financial knowledge. With more knowledge, you’ll also gain more confidence and power to make your financial dreams come true.

Visit our online financial learning center, including an entire library of financial education topics at the Advantis Financial Education Center.