While losing weight still may be the most common New Year’s Resolution, getting your finances in better shape is a popular second this year according to Parade. The holidays can be a joyous time. However, the season also can lead to blowing both your budget and your diet.
Why is now the time to focus on your financial health?
There is a clear link between financial stress and our physical health. Entering a new year and a new decade is a perfect time to break what can become a vicious cycle by alleviating your worries about money and the ailments that can result from higher stress levels. This year also marks the beginning of a new high school financial literacy program in Kentucky, sponsored by credit unions across the state, to help our youth build stronger financial futures.
Here are just a few of the steps you can take today to rid yourself of excess holiday debt and start on the path to a financially healthier 2020.
Read the Fine Print. Take a close look at your current credit card and other loan statements. What interest rate(s) are you paying? Are additional fees accruing? How long will it take you to pay off the debt at this rate? Taking stock of where you currently are is the first step to finding a better solution and setting achievable goals for the year.
Consider Debt Consolidation. If you have multiple loan payments, consolidating those debts into a single, lower-rate loan may be a huge stress reliever as it can reduce monthly payments and help you get out of debt faster. Contact your local financial institution to find out what options you have. For homeowners, a lower-rate home equity loan or line of credit may be the best approach. While a lower-rate personal loan may be the best option for renters.
Start Saving. Even if your primary goal is to get out of debt, building your emergency savings account still should be a priority. This helps ensure you don’t dig a deeper hole with existing credit cards or take out new loans when unexpected expenses arise. Putting away a small dollar amount each month can add up over time and help you cover the flat tires, household repairs and other needs that are bound to arise.
Avoid Monthly Fees. If you’re paying account maintenance or other monthly fees, it might be time to switch to a free checking account. They still exist and may even offer other convenient money management features such as early direct deposit, which could hit your account up to two days faster. See what your local bank or credit union has to offer and don’t forget to look at their surcharge-free ATM locations. Many smaller institutions offer free access through shared networks that may offer greater convenience and help you avoid ATM fees throughout the year.
Just like improving your physical health, financial wellness is a journey that takes time. Getting started today with a few small steps in the right direction can make a debt detox a resolution you can keep. Wishing you a healthy and happy 2020.