Say hello to 2019! We’re here to help you easily make smart money moves this year so you can save more and spend more time doing the things you love.
Does the new year have you feeling inspired?
You might have grand plans to trek to Machu Picchu, master Mandarin or save an extra $10,000.
We know most resolutions are easy to hatch and hard to keep. But when it comes to money goals, there are things you can do this month — perhaps even right now — that will put you on the path to success.
And, on top of potentially earning more, you’ll also have more time to focus on other things, like training for that four-day Machu Picchu hike.
Learn how to reach the following money goals:
» MORE: 9 nerdy financial resolutions for 2019
1. Stick to a budget
Why: A budget can help you feel good about where your money is going and reduce stress down the road. Many of us want to budget but don’t know where to start. (Some of our fellow Nerds list budgeting as a resolution, too). It may seem like a lot of work, but it can actually be very simple.
What you can do now: Check out the 50/30/20 budget. In a nutshell, it divides up your take-home pay into three categories: 50% for necessities (rent, car payments and groceries), 30% for wants (that flight to Peru) and 20% for savings and debt repayments (things like an emergency fund and extra student loan payments). This type of budget is manageable and gives you room to spend on fun, too. Use our checklist to see where certain expenses should go.
» MORE: How to create a budget
2. Earn more on savings
Why: The new year is a popular time to upgrade your lifestyle, but upgrading your bank account can help you afford that new lifestyle. Switching banks is a relatively easy lift, and you could end up with hundreds of dollars more — or even thousands, depending on how much you’ve put in — by the end of the year.
What you can do now: Move your money to a high-yield savings account with a higher interest rate than the one you’re currently getting. Look for one that has around a 2% APY. (The average savings annual percentage yield for all banks is 0.09%.)
3. Start investing
Why: Investing isn’t just for the wealthy or for people who love to geek out about the stock market. Instead of letting your hard-earned funds just sit there, make your money work harder for you. It’s OK if you need to start small with just $500. Learn how to grow your money with these investing basics.
What you can do now: Open an online brokerage account — that’s a type of investment account — if you’d like to be more hands-on, and deposit an amount you feel comfortable not touching for at least five years. Opening a brokerage account can take just 15 minutes.
4. Pay off credit card debt
Why: Being free of credit card debt can open up so many opportunities down the road, like buying a home or retiring early. While it may not be possible to get rid of all of your debt this year, you can at least create a plan of attack. (If you’re worried about getting credit card debt in the future, there are ways to avoid it.)
What you can do now: Explore transferring your debt to a balance transfer card as a way to save on interest and pay off the debt faster. Before you apply for one, check the card’s transfer fee, APR period and your credit to make sure you qualify.