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New Year, New Money Goals

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Set yourself up for financial success in 2024.

If financial fitness is one of your goals for 2024, you are not alone. According to Fidelity’s 2024 Financial Resolutions survey, 41% of us plan to save more money in the coming year. Thirty-eight percent plan to pay down debt and 30% of those surveyed hope to spend less compared to 2023.

Inflation remains a top concern for many Americans, but that doesn’t mean financial security is out of reach. Here are some resolutions you can achieve—and some tips on how to stay committed to your goals.

1. Consolidate and pay down debt.

According to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, Americans collectively have over 1 trillion dollars in credit card debt—and 47 percent of that carries over from month to month. Since the average credit card interest rate is around 21%, that means we’re losing a lot of money to interest charges. If, for example, you have a credit card with a balance of $5,000 and 21% interest, you’ll pay over $1,000 in interest alone over a year. Prioritize paying down high-interest debt and, if possible, consolidate your debts into one manageable account.

2. Create a budget.

Budgeting doesn’t have to be complicated or restrictive. More than anything, building a healthy budget is about knowing what is coming in and going out. Calculate your income and write down your monthly expenses—everything from car insurance to grocery receipts. Be sure to look at your bank and credit card statements so you have a clear picture of what you are spending. Once you’ve documented your income and spending, set specific (and realistic) spending limits for variable expenses (like food, entertainment, and travel). As you work within your budget, adjust as necessary. Like most things in life, budgeting takes practice. You may not get it right immediately, and it is more important to stay on track than it is to adhere to a specific plan.

3. Start an emergency fund.

If you live paycheck to paycheck, it’s hard to get ahead. Experts recommend we keep enough in savings to cover three to six months of living expenses, but for many of us, that is simply not feasible. This year, instead of focusing on the end goal, celebrate incremental success. If all you can afford to set aside is $10 a month, do it. By the end of the year, you will have accumulated $120—and that is a $120 that you didn’t have saved before.

4. Prioritize saving.

For the savvy savers among us, saving money is like brushing teeth. They know it needs to be done, so they routinely do it. For the rest of us, saving money feels like a chore. When life gets hectic, we simply put off the task. For 2024, make saving money a priority. Set yourself goals (even little ones) and if you meet those goals, celebrate (ideally not by spending a bunch of money). If you don’t meet your goals, reevaluate, and set new, more achievable goals. If you are forgetful, set yourself up for success with an automatic transfer to your savings or money market account. You can schedule one in online banking or have your employer split your direct deposit between multiple accounts.

5. Cut unnecessary expenses.

Do you have an Audible or Apple Music subscription that you keep forgetting to cancel? It may only be $5 or $10 each month, but those subscription costs add up. This year, take the time to cancel unused any subscriptions and review your monthly costs (see above) to see what else you can eliminate.

6. Improve your credit score.

Your credit score holds immense power and can have a huge impact on your overall financial well-being. If your score is on the low side (under 670), make this the year you rebuild your credit by paying your bills on time and reducing your credit utilization rate to 30% or less.

7. Invest wisely.

Thoughtful investing can boost your financial well-being and help you save for long-term goals like retirement—but the process is not one-size-fits-all. The best way to invest depends on your personal circumstances and objectives. If you are a beginner, seek advice from a financial advisor who can align your investments with your long-term goals.

8. Boost your financial literacy.

One of the most important things you can do to navigate your financial future is to educate yourself. With a strong financial literacy foundation, you’ll be able to manage money more effectively and make smart financial decisions—no matter what the new year has in store. Invest in your personal growth by reading books, listening to podcasts, or attending workshops (we have a few!). You can also get free or affordable financial classes on platforms like Khan Academy or Coursera that cover things like debt management, portfolio building, investments, and financial planning.

2024 is not a completely blank slate (after all, we have that collective $1 trillion in debt to sort out) but it is a great opportunity to start fresh with your personal financial goals. To set yourself up for success, give yourself realistic, achievable goals. Keep track of your progress throughout the year and if something isn’t working, make modifications. No one is perfect. That’s what makes us human. When you achieve your goals, celebrate! These changes—regardless of how big or small—can make a difference today and for years to come.

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