But in spite of the COVID-19 pandemic, some things remain the same, including the need for smart money management. The start of the new year is an ideal time to revisit your financial goals and plans to ensure they work for you. No matter how the pandemic may have impacted your financial situation, consider taking these important steps now to maximize your money in 2021:
– Avoid or pay off debt. Resolve to pay credit cards and other bills each month by spending within your limits. Try to avoid taking on additional debt outside of a mortgage. If you have debt, pay off the highest interest loans first, and also try to accelerate loan payments when you can. Reducing debt is especially important as you approach retirement age.
– Look for simple ways to save. Make saving a New Year’s resolution, especially this year, as the pandemic continues to affect the economy, and job stability may be less uncertain.
In addition to setting aside part of a paycheck for saving, consider how little things you can do now can add up to savings later. For example, use ATM machines for your current banking institution, only to avoid usage fees charged at other banks, consider generic medications or prescriptions, which are often less expensive than “name brand” products, and use cash-back and rewards cards and apps to reduce expenses or to earn rewards on purchases.
– Think retirement now. Even if you are early in your working life, it is never too soon to save for retirement. Don’t underestimate the power of compound interest: earning interest on your savings over many years is how you build wealth, and the sooner you start saving, the longer the time to compound your savings, and the more wealth you can build. Resolve to maximize retirement savings through your employer and explore additional ways to save on your own.
– Set up a financial plan. Managing your money is easier when you have a plan. Resolve to consult a financial planner for guidance on how to get the most from your money to help ensure that you reach your financial goals and secure your financial future. Some smart money strategies include creating a budget to track your spending and identify ways to save, establishing an emergency fund, and setting up automatic savings plans when possible.
“Use the start of a new year as motivation to begin or continue the financial planning process,” according to the website of the Certified Financial Planner Board, a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting professional standards in personal financial planning.
Visit letsmakeaplan.org today for more financial planning tips and guidance, and to locate a CFP® professional in your area who can start you on your way to realizing your financial goals in 2021 and beyond.