The new year is almost here, and with that comes the opportunity to restart and refocus. It’s no surprise that one of the top resolutions for any new year is to get your finances in top shape. Today we are going over six new year’s resolutions that can get your finances working with you, not against you.
Here are six new year’s resolutions that will get you fiscally fit in 2023.
Resolution #1: Start a budget
If you haven’t started a monthly budget yet, now is the perfect time. Monthly budgets are the best tool for getting a handle on your finances, as it allows you to see exactly how much you have coming in every month and how much you have going out. Looking at a budget allows you to precisely pinpoint where you might be spending a little too much and gives you an opportunity to amend.
Budgeting is relatively easy, it just takes some time to get organized. Start by gathering your bills, statements, and pay stubs for the last year (or have them pulled up online). Then record the following:
- Your fixed expenses–rent, mortgage, car payment, cellphone–your expenses that are the same every month.
- Your variable expenses–groceries, electricity, entertainment–take an average of the past 12 months to get an average of these expenses that change from month to month (your credit card might even break down some of these categories for you)
- Your income–paychecks, dividends, and any miscellaneous income you have.
Get all of that information into a spreadsheet and see how everything adds up and where you can stand to make some changes.
Resolution #2: Improve your credit score
Your credit score is an indicator of your financial health–for you and for your lenders. The better your score is, the easier your financial life will be. Having a good credit score can help you in many ways:
- You can get better rates on car insurance and homeowner’s insurance
- You can get a lower credit card interest rate
- You can get higher credit card limits
- You will have an easier time qualifying for a mortgage
- You will have an easier time renting an apartment
- You can get a lower car loan interest rate
- It will look good to potential employers.
Credit scores range from 850 to 300 and are broken down into five categories.
- 800 to 850: Excellent credit
- 740 to 799: Very good credit
- 670 to 739: Good credit
- 580 to 669: Fair credit
- 300 to 579: Poor credit
You will get the most benefits from having excellent or very good credit, and improving your score by even just a few points can help you score a better interest rate or push your credit limit higher.
Credit scores are calculated based on your payment history, accounts owed, credit history length, credit mix, and new credit. Focusing on improving any of these areas can prove to be very beneficial for your financial health, but here are some of the most impactful ways to improve your credit score:
- Make full and on time payments
- Request higher limits on your accounts
- Hold off on opening new accounts unless necessary
- Pay down debts that have a high credit utilization first
Resolution #3: Put more money into savings
Saving more money is always a top resolution for the new year. There are many ways to do this depending on what your goals are. Saving money goes hand in hand with creating (and sticking to) a budget, so consider doing this in tandem with resolution number one.
- Contribute more to your 401K
- Deposit a percentage of your paycheck into a savings account
- Look for areas in your budget to cut, then put that money into savings
- Try different savings apps
- Consider getting a credit card with cash rewards that you can put into savings
Small changes can add up to big savings, so study your budget to see where you can cut costs.
Resolution #4: Check your credit report more regularly
Your credit report is vitally important to your financial wellbeing, but most people do not regularly check it. This can be a huge problem, as you may not know if there is an issue until it is too late.
You can check your report for free once per year from each of the three major credit agencies: TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian. You want to take advantage of this and check your report every four months.
Credit reports contain the following information:
- A list of businesses and companies that have given you credit or loans
- The total amount for each loan or credit limit for each credit card
- Your payment history for each account, including the date and amount paid
- Missed or late payments
- A list of businesses and companies that have requested your report
- Your personal information, including current and former names, addresses, and employers
- Any bankruptcies or other public record information
While this may seem like a lot to go over, keeping up on it every few months can make the task much more manageable. When you get a copy of your credit report, be sure to check for the following
- There is as accurate payment history
- There are accurate balances
- There are no unknown or unrecognized accounts
- All of your personal information is correct, including your name and address
Report any errors to the agency as soon as you notice them. They will review within 30 days and can amend any issues. This can have a big effect on your credit score as well, so you don’t want to ignore this task.
Resolution #5: Refinance any high interest loans
If you have any high interest loans, such as your mortgage or car payment, this may be the year to refinance those loans. When you refinance a loan, you are essentially starting over with a new loan that will have better terms, such as a better interest rate or repayment plan. This can save you a lot of money over the life of the loan, and/or can make your monthly payments much more manageable.
If you refinance a car loan to a lower car loan APR you will save money every month in interest and save in total over the life of the loan. If you refinance to a shorter repayment plan, you will save money over the life of the loan by paying interest over less time. Your monthly payments will be higher by doing this however. You can also refinance to a longer repayment plan, which will reduce your monthly payments by a lot. By doing this you will pay more money over the life of the loan however since you will be paying interest over a longer period of time.
Refinancing your car loan may make sense if any of the following apply to you:
- Your credit score has improved since you initially financed your car.
- The market rates have improved since you initially financed your car
- Your debt to income ratio has improved since you initially financed your car.
- You want to add or remove a cosigner from your loan
- You need some breathing room with lower payments
The best news is that refinancing your car loan is super easy when you use a company that specializes in refinancing. Auto Approve experts can help guide you through the process and start saving money immediately (no need to wait for the new year!)
Resolution #6: Start an emergency fund
It’s incredibly important to have an emergency fund. For most Americans an unexpected cost can really throw their finances for a loop, and you don’t want to get caught on the wrong end of a bill you can’t afford.
Emergency funds can help protect you from the unexpected. How much you should have in your emergency fund depends on a lot of factors in your life, such as how many dependents you have, how much your monthly expenses are, and how in-demand your job may be. But you should aim to have at least a few months worth of expenses stashed away somewhere.
A good way to start an emergency fund is to build it into your monthly budget. Treating your emergency fund as a bill that you have to pay will help you to constantly add to it and allow it to grow without too much effort. Start with $100, $50, or even just $25 a month–whatever you can afford really. Try to keep it in an account where you can build a little interest, but don’t lock your money away in an account where you will be fined to take it out. The point is to have the money easily accessible.
Those are six financial resolutions that can help you get you fiscally fit.
We hope these resolutions will inspire you to take charge of your finances in the new year. A little planning and good intention can help 2023 become your best year yet.
If refinancing your car loan lands on your to do list for the new year, get in touch with Auto Approve today! Our experts are here and ready to help you save money with a brand new car loan.