It’s a brand new year to create new habits. And creating better financial habits can bring great rewards. Here are some financial self-improvement tips for the months ahead:
Since there are countless ways to improve your financial lives, this post will provide a few more ideas to get you motivated. And we’re starting the list with the most unusual suggestion first.
1. Save later.
This is going to sound like crazy advice, but you can benefit financially by vowing to boost your savings once you get a raise rather than starting right now.
In an academic study of 401(k) participants, workers who tried this more than tripled their savings over a 28-month period.
Here’s one of our previous posts that explains how this successful strategy can work:
And here’s a TED talk by Shlomo Benartzi, a famous economist, about the strategy of Saving for Tomorrow, Tomorrow.
2. Tune out the market.
The New Year has been a grim one for the U.S. stock market. In the first two weeks of 2016, the stock market declined eight percent. By mid-month, the market had reached its lowest level since last summer.
What’s important is not to panic now or anytime the market struggles. What you don’t want to do is to dump your long-term holdings out of fear. Remind yourself that investing is a long-term pursuit and that in a few months or a year, you may not even remember this happening.
3. Contribute to an IRA earlier than usual.
You’ll get the biggest bang for your buck if you invest at the first opportunity. The start date for investing in a 2016 IRA was January 1 and the contributions can continue for this year until April 15, 2017.
4. Don’t hold onto passwords.
Cybercrime is a growing problem. In just 2015 alone, there were more than 781 data breechesopens PDF file that resulted in exposure to more than 169 million personal records, according to the Identify Theft Resource Center. One way to fight this pernicious problem is to change the passwords for your financial institutions frequently and don’t use the same password for all your accounts.
5. Consider making a budget.
Admittedly, this can be a non-starter for many people, but at the very least identify where you are spending your money and where you might be able to squeeze out some savings.
6. Don’t get blinded by reward points.
People can get so wrapped up accumulating reward points and miles through their credit cards that they overlook that they aren’t paying their balances. And interest charges on this debt can exceed any benefit from the reward points.
7. Teach your children good financial habits
Many Americans who are poor stewards of their money didn’t have role models to show them how to be smart consumers and prudent investors when they were growing up. Don’t let this happen to your children.
8. Increase your savings now.
If you weren’t keen about the first suggestion to start saving later, by all means ratchet up your savings now. If you’ve got the motivation to pull it off, increasing your savings now is the best way to proceed. And with the stock market struggling right now, your money will go further.