As the year wraps up, a perfect time emerges to look back on the year and seek ways to improve financial health in 2016. Our Queens bankruptcy office recently launched a top ten list of money matters to improve financial health in the New Year.
This list serves to benefit clients and readers who are dealing with debt and going through the bankruptcy process, as well as those who are simply looking to improve their financial outlook over the coming year.
#1 – Get in Sync (Financially) with Your Partner
We recommend getting on the same financial page as a spouse or partner, which includes spending and saving goals. Take a look at retirement accounts to find matching benefits for spouses, or inconsistencies. Spend 10 minutes learning about flexible spending accounts for healthcare, and look closely at work benefits for hidden gems like personal counseling for couples.
#2 – Make Sure Your Money Ages With You
It’s important to make sure your retirement investments are set to grow at a pace that will reap the most financial reward for you and your family. An investment portfolio needs to be be aggressive enough to outperform inflation, and should be reviewed and updated over time. Younger adults may invest in riskier stocks, while older adults may move some of their investment money over to bonds, so it’s important to have a diversified portfolio that fits your needs and avoids future pitfalls.
#3 – Streamline Your Inbox
Technology makes it easier than ever to fall into debt with flashy emails that flaunt not-to-miss deals on a daily basis. Prevent these tempting pitfalls that can eat into savings by unsubscribing from 1-2 retailer emails every day for a week. Or opt for an online service that consolidates all your subscription emails into one daily message, saving you time and money.
#4 – Pay Off Big Debt First
Many people enter a New Year with debt; don’t use that as an excuse to give up. Instead of looking at debt as one big burden, take a moment to review it and pinpoint the debt that is high priority to pay off. This may be the loan with a highest interest rate, or a large credit card bill. The key is honing in on the most important debt that you can feasibly pay off. This may involve working with a bankruptcy attorney if a person’s debts are particularly high or difficult to prioritize. The good news is that there is a road to financial freedom for everybody.
#5 – Rebuild After a Tough Year
If the previous year was especially difficult, 2016 is a perfect time to rebuild floundering finances. Going through bankruptcy in New York can be emotional, but life after bankruptcy is possible. Prioritize a few key goals like growing savings, establishing credit, or making payments on time. Setting a short – and manageable – list helps individuals and businesses work towards financial freedom.
#6 – Improve Your Credit Score
A credit score isn’t just a number, it’s a path to better financial opportunities over time. Higher credit scores can lead to more advantageous loans and interest rates on everything from mortgages to credit cards. You can take steps to boost your credit score like paying off debt and making credit card payments on time. Even people and businesses who have gone through bankruptcy can rebuild credit over time.
# 7 – Invest the Max in Retirement Savings
Many families contribute below the cap on retirement accounts, if at all. Instead of looking at retirement investments as money out of your paycheck, look at them as payments toward your future with great returns. Many jobs offer a 401(k) plan, and they can be set up in a matter of minutes to make automatic paycheck deductions. You can also set up contributions to an eligible IRA account, making automatic saving even easier.
#8 – How Much Are You Worth?
Few American know the answer to this question, which keeps them from planning properly for retirement or finding the right salary for their needs. Calculating net worth involves listing current assets, like investments and salary, along with liabilities, such as a car loan or mortgage. Finding out your current net worth can help you or your business properly plan spending habits and goals for the coming year.
#9 – Protect Yourself From Fraud
Online banking has huge benefits – but with them come the risks of fraud and identity theft. It is important to protect against these actions; fortunately there are simple tools to help you stay safe. Don’t click on unfamiliar URLs or emails. Thieves that masquerade as fake retailers and banks are common. You can also speak with your bank about fraud protection services for your investments. And there are a several phone apps that automatically alert you of potentially fraudulent changes, which can save lost time and money.
#10 – Review Your Investments
The New Year is a great time to review your investments and make tweaks. This helps ensure they are performing at the right pace and working in a way that is appropriate for you as an investor. Overly conservative investments may lag behind inflation, and those that are too aggressive can incur big losses at the wrong time in your life, like retirement. Review investments with a financial planner or use online tools to help calibrate your money; this is a review of your financial health, just as you would see the dentist or a doctor for a check-up.
If you are considering filing for bankruptcy in Queens, New York, Contact the Law Offices of Bruce Feinstein, Esq. today for a Free Consultation.