Next year will be here before we know it. Now is a great time to brush up on your financial health to ensure you have a happy and financially healthy new year. Here are some tips to help you get started.
1. Check Your Credit Report
You can obtain a free copy of your credit report every 12 months from each of the three major credit reporting agencies at AnnualCreditReport.com. Consider taking a second look at some financial mistakes you might have made in the past — maybe you missed a couple of payments on your credit card or took out too many credit cards at once, causing multiple hard inquiries.
You might want to write down what you did right and what you did wrong to help you not make those same mistakes in 2017. Since you are checking your credit report, you might also want to take a look at your credit score and think about ways you can boost your score in the new year. (You can view two of your credit scores, updated every 14 days, for free on Credit.com.)
Taking a look at your credit report can also help you check for any irregularities such as fraud or identify theft. It’s a good idea to stay on top of your finances to avoid fraudulent activity.
2. Cash in Missing Money
Missing or unclaimed money could be checks that haven’t been cashed yet, dormant bank accounts, insurance refunds, etc. Now is the time to cash in your unclaimed money and put it toward any leftover debt you have so it doesn’t persist into the new year. If you paid off most of your debt, then consider putting your extra cash toward an emergency fund or savings account.
3. Tackle Your Debt
Paying down or reducing your debt in 2017 can be a great New Year’s resolution to start with. After checking your credit report, you might want to create a plan on how to pay off your debt in a timely manner. If you have a high-interest rate credit card with a high balance, then consider starting with that and going from there. (This credit card payoff calculator can help you come up with a plan.)
Consider taking a look at your bank statements from 2016. You might have been spending more on non-essential items than essential expenses. Go over the items that are most important and considered a need and not a want. If you have any outstanding debt, then you might want to skip over some of those extra indulgences until your debt is wiped clean.
4. Establish Savings Goals
Having a savings account in the new year will help you prepare for unexpected expenses and could even help you reach your financial goals (a new car, saving for a house, vacation, etc.). Take a look at your budget to help you devise a practical plan and consider having a start and end date to reach your savings goal.