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Many people see the new year as an opportunity to make positive change.
If you’re looking to improve your financial heath, Bell Investments can help! Here are five thoughtful money moves you can make.
When it comes to budgeting, the old saying, “If you fail to plan, plan to fail,” rings true. It’s hard to control your spending and saving if you don’t track and direct where your money should go. There are many tools available online or in smartphone apps to make budgeting as simple or complex as you want it.
To start, track your spending for an entire month. Many people are surprised by the amount of money they spend and what they spend it on.
Then, track your income and expenses at least once a week in a budget worksheet, spreadsheet or app to make sure you’re staying on track to meet your goals.
The best budget is a lot like the best diet or exercise plan – it’s the one you can stick to.
Just like dieting can be difficult without someone to guide you, it can be tempting to cheat on your financial plan without an advisor to help you work toward your goals. A financial planner can help you stay accountable and teach you about financial strategies you may not otherwise learn.
An annual evaluation of your financial health – comparing where you are now with where you were last year – can help you know whether you’re on the right track in working toward your financial goals.
If your company offers a 401(k) plan, take advantage of it. Saving for retirement is very important, and contributing toward a 401(k) plan is a way for you to easily save for your future. Contribute as much as you comfortably can while meeting your other financial obligations. You should at least maximize matching contributions from your employer. (If you don’t, it’s like refusing a pay raise! You’re leaving money on the table.)
If you don’t have an employer-sponsored retirement savings plan, open an IRA (individual retirement account) to grow your money faster with tax-deferred earnings.
Between what you and your employer put in, try to contribute at least 10 to 15 percent of your salary, if possible, toward a retirement account.
Unhealthy debt is typically used for things you want, not necessarily what you need. And it often comes with a higher interest rate. Credit cards, payday loans and cash advance loans all can be considered types of unhealthy debt if you let them accumulate. That can be harmful, luring you into a debt trap you might have a hard time escaping.
To pay off as much of this debt as possible, make more than the minimum payments, and focus on paying off debt with the highest interest rate first.
One way you can protect your identity – and your finances – is by freezing your credit. A new change to federal law means it’s now free to freeze your credit and temporarily lift the freeze (or “thaw” your credit). Because most creditors need to view your credit report before opening a new account, a credit freeze helps prevent thieves from opening new credit and charge accounts in your name.
A credit freeze does not affect your credit score or prevent you from receiving your annual credit report. It also doesn’t prevent a thief from making changes to existing accounts – only from opening new accounts in your name. So, even with a credit freeze, you should still regularly monitor your bank and credit card accounts and insurance statements.
► If you want to improve your financial health, I can help. Give me a call to get started!
Bell Investments VP/Wealth Advisor
Securities offered through LPL Financial, member FINRA/SIPC. Insurance products offered through LPL Financial or its licensed affiliates. The investment products sold through LPL Financial are not insured Bell Bank deposits and are not FDIC insured. These products are not obligations of Bell Bank and are not endorsed, recommended or guaranteed by Bell Bank or any government agency. The value of the investment may fluctuate, the return on the investment is not guaranteed, and loss of principal is possible.