I’ve decided to start an annual tradition for CGS readers. Each year, I’m going to share changes to make to your finances, or things to do that will help you. I hadn’t thought about making this a tradition when I wrote last year’s article 17 Things to Do For Your Finances in 2017, but as another year has come, I decided it would be a great tradition to start!
I will say that some of the changes or recommendations may be the same from year to year, but that’s because they are important regardless of when they begin. I will also say that you don’t need to accomplish all of these things right away, work your way through the list and make small changes where you can. Any progress is better than no progress.
Now, on to the 18 changes to make to your finances in 2018:
#1 Increase your retirement contribution by 1%
Unless you are maxed out on your retirement contribution (that means contributing $18,500 a year), then there is always an opportunity to contribute more. If you have a 401k plan, an IRA, or both, I challenge you to increase your contribution amount by 1%, at least.
#2 Switch to a high-yield savings account
Ally, Barclay, American Express Bank, Synchrony Bank, Capital One. Your options are endless when it comes to a high-yield savings account. Make your savings work harder for you, with no effort, by keeping it in a high-yield savings account, offered by most online banks.
#3 Stop using credit cards
This explains itself.
#4 Open an account with Betterment
Betterment is an investment company, based online, that helps you invest your money to get the most return. The only effort required on your part is to make a monthly deposit. All the hard work is done for you and can be tracked easily. Not to mention, the fees are incredibly low.
#5 Follow a budget
Also, self-explanatory. Read 6 Reasons to Follow a Budget This Year if you need more insight.
#6 Double your emergency fund
If you are diligently working to pay down debts, your emergency fund should be in the range of $1000. If you don’t have debt, then your emergency fund should be 3-6 months’ worth of expenses. Regardless of where your emergency fund currently is, work to double it this year. Unless you are paying down debts, then double your debt payments.
#7 Bring in more money
You can only cut back your expenses by so much. At some point, you will need to bring in more money to make faster traction on your goals. Start driving for Uber. Get a second job. Ask for a raise at work. However you can, strive to bring in more money this year.
#8 Sign up with Digit
For $2.99 a month, Digit helps you save more money by transferring small amounts of money from your checking account to your Digit savings account. Digit uses a special algorithm to gauge the right amount to transfer so you don’t feel like you’re missing the money. It’s free for the first 100 days, and worth every penny once the $2.99/month kicks in.
#9 Save for your vacation now
Are you planning a trip this summer, at the end of the year, or next year? Even if you don’t have a vacation planned, you just know you want to take a vacation, start saving for it now. Put as little as $25/paycheck into a new account created just for your vacation.
#10 Do everything you can to become debt free
This includes student loans, mortgages, and auto loans – especially for those who don’t have credit card debt. If you have any form of debt, adjust your budget so you can contribute more to the debt each month. Do everything you can to become debt free.
#11 Read a finance book
Notice that I only said “book” and not “books”. If you can read more than one finance book this year, that’s even better, but at minimum read one book about finance this year. New perspectives on money is never a bad thing. Check out 6 Women-Focused Finance Reads for a few of my favorites.
#12 Forget about the Joneses
This year, your goal should only be to worry about your situation. Who cares what other people have or don’t have? Your focus is on you and achieving your financial goals.
#13 Practice gratitude
I’ve heard that failing to practice gratitude and show thanks for things you currently have can lead to a life of discontentment. And alternatively, giving thanks for what you currently have opens the door for more things to come your way. Test this theory this year. Start practicing gratitude for what you do have.
#14 Be uncomfortable with money
If you are a natural spender (like me) then the act of not spending any money should make you uncomfortable. If you are a money hoarder (yes, those people do exist), then invest your money. Do things that make you uncomfortable, but will help your future financial state.
#15 Donate to a charity
Find a charity that resonates with you, and donate something. Giving and helping others is what life is all about. You don’t have to give much to make a difference.
#16 Schedule a free budget consultation with me
If you are confused about your finances or where you are headed financially. If you don’t know how to budget or where to start. If you want to get out of debt but can’t control your spending, seek help! Schedule a free consultation with me and start the process of acknowledging what’s not working in your finances and start working to fix it.
#17 Try a new expense tracking system, or continue what is working
Start tracking your spending. If you already have a system that works for you and allows you to keep tabs on your spending, keep it up! If you haven’t found a system that works for you, be open to trying new things. Create an excel spreadsheet (that’s what I use), use an app like Mint or EveryDollar, or write everything you spend down in a notebook.
#18 Be intentional with your money
This year, focus on giving your money “purpose”. This means you think through your purchases and avoid throwing money away.
Like I mentioned, these 18 changes don’t need to happen overnight. Do what you can realistically can to move yourself to a better financial state. Some progress is better than no progress. Start now! What are some of the changes you want to make with your money this year? Are any of the items listed above on your goals list? Share what changes you want to make with me and other CGS readers by leaving a comment below!
The CGS Team