15 Financial Resolutions That Will Make You More Money in 2020
You know the year-end ritual, make all sorts of promises to do better, be it exercising more, eating better, or any number of well-intended goals. Trouble is, typically by Valentine's Day those vows have vanished. Maybe what you need is an incentive. How about cash? Here are 15 financial resolutions that are worth keeping because they'll make you more money.
Pay off high-interest credit cards
With average U.S. household credit card debt growing to $15,482 per family and an average credit card interest rate of 13.08 percent, Stoyan Panayotov, CEO of Babylon Wealth Management, says paying off credit card debt should be on the priority list of financial resolutions for 2019. What’s the urgency? “The Fed is expected to hike interest rates at least three more times in the upcoming year,” he says. The sooner you get rid of the debt, the better. Find out the credit cards you should never open in the first place.
You know how hefty late fees can be, so why give creditors more money than they deserve? Make paying bills easy on yourself and set up auto-pay for your monthly bills. Not only do you save a bundle by avoiding late fees, but some lenders and utility companies also offer reduced interest rates or other benefits when you use their automated payment services, points out Sean Fox, co-president of Freedom Debt Relief.
Build an emergency fund
You can avoid expensive credit card debt if you have a stash to draw on when an emergency arises. Try to save enough to cover six to nine months of basic living expenses. Then when an unexpected expense comes up, like a car repair bill or medical expense, or if you suddenly lose your job, you won’t have to put even more debt on a credit card. “With rising interest rates and economists warning that a recession is inevitable (not necessarily in 2019, but in the foreseeable future), the last thing you want to do is have high-interest credit card debt or, worse yet, have to turn to a payday loan to cover an expense,” Fox says.
Check your credit reports
In light of all the recent data breaches, start out 2019 on the right foot by making sure your data is accurate. Access credit reports from each of the three main credit reporting agencies once a year at no charge, at Annualcreditreport.com or by calling 877-322-8228. If you are checking reports for the first time in a while, get all three at the same time. Then, consider getting on a system where you request one report at four-month intervals, says Fox. Find out the sneaky things that affect your credit score.
Plan your vacation
Many people start thinking about summer vacation in March or April when it’s time to start booking those trips. But this upcoming year, vow to put a little money away every month to avoid the stress an expensive vacation can cause. “I recommend that my clients create a separate savings account for vacations and travel expenses, then add a certain amount to the savings account each month,” says Emily Stroud, owner and manager of investment firm, Stroud Financial Management. “Then when the time comes to enjoy your vacation, you won’t have to go into debt to pay for it.” Here are 50 ways to save on summer travel.
Improve your banking IQ
A survey from PurePoint Financial found that 65 percent of respondents do not realize the benefit of incremental gains from keeping money in a high-interest savings account. About four in ten respondents believe their checking account and savings account have the same interest rates, and many admit that they have nearly $5,000 sitting in a checking account or digital wallet, where their money accrues little or no interest. But, if you aren’t earning at least 1 percent on your savings, you’re leaving money on the table. “By simply switching to a high-yield savings account, you could earn money from your money and also get into better savings habits,” says Andrea Woroch, a consumer savings expert.
Take on a side hustle
A new study from Finder.com found that 70 percent of Americans need extra cash to make ends meet. However, some consumers just don’t want to commit to a second job and give up nights and weekends away from their family. Luckily, there are plenty of easy ways to make money from a side hustle that doesn’t require a huge time commitment.
For instance, you can earn up to $1,000 a month dog sitting through sites such as Rover.com. You can dog sit in your home and keep up with your daily routine while making extra income. Or, consider picking up odd jobs like building IKEA furniture or gardening through sites such as TaskRabbit.org, become a virtual assistant, or, if you’re handy in the kitchen, you can become a cooking instructor through the virtual cooking lesson site VonnieApp.com. Says Woroch, “There are limitless ways to earn extra money, so you don’t have to drown in debt or struggle to pay your bills every month.” Here are 10 more ways you can make extra money fast.
Set yourself up for a promotion
Of all the 317 industry salaries listed by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, research reveals 70.25 percent saw average salaries increase between 2016 and 2017 (albeit several of the increases were under 1 percent and less than the rate of inflation). This means that the likelihood of getting a pay raise is leaning in your favor. “Be direct with your request and researched in your back up providing why you deserve the pay raise and the increase you would expect,” says Jennifer McDermott, consumer advocate at Finder.com.
Drink less alcohol outside of the house
A glass of wine at a restaurant isn’t bad, but if your average drink costs $9 and you go out twice a week, you’re spending $72 per month on alcoholic drinks. Instead of meeting friends at a bar, invite them to your house to cut back on restaurant costs. Cutting down on booze is also good for your health and you might even lose weight. When you do eat out, follow these 11 strategies to save money in restaurants.
Cut back subscription costs and monthly bills
Are you still paying for that meditation app that you were so gung-ho about at the start and then promptly forgot about a week later? Cancel it. Think about real-life membership costs, too. “Have you been to your gym lately? If not, try going for a walk or working out at home to save you money on products you weren’t even using,” says Mark Charnet, founder and CEO of American Prosperity Group.
There are more money management apps than you can count—and some will save you big bucks. Consider Clarity Money, Mint.com, Earny or RX Saver. With Earny, you get automatic refunds when the price drops on things you already bought. Better still, Earny immediately contacts the company to get your money back, you do nothing. Clarity Money’s in-app savings account can help users save towards specific goals like a wedding or bucket list trip. Mint.com helps with budgeting, investment and bill tracking, and more. Rx Saver makes it easy to find the lowest prices on prescription medication. You can search for medication, compare prices at different nearby pharmacies and potentially see a savings of up to 50 percent.
Curb your impulses
Learn to just chill when you get excited about “stuff.” That $500 jacket looks great, but will you wear it enough? It may be a good weekend to go away to a football game, but could the $1,000 be better used? Settle yourself before you spend. When you make choices, think long-term, instead of instant gratification, says Morris Armstrong of Armstrong Financial Strategies.
Re-vamp your resume
With unemployment at about 4 percent, the job market is hot. So if you’ve been waiting to switch jobs, now may be the time. “Prepare your resume to highlight all the new skills and responsibilities you’ve amassed,” says Janet Alvarez of Wise Bread. If your skills need updating, invest in yourself by attending seminars and classes, better still, see if you can get your current employer to pay for them.
Increase retirement contributions by 1 to 2 percent
Small changes can yield big results. If you got a raise this year (and even if you didn’t), it’s time to increase your retirement contributions. Raising this amount by 1 to 2 percent doesn’t seem like much, but it has a significant impact on your retirement savings over time, says Alvarez. Find out 17 habits of people who are great at saving money.
“Refinance your loans today to save a ton of money in 2019,” says Chad Zollinger, chief editor of the finance blogs at BestCompany.com. It’s particularly smart to do it now, as interest rates continue to tick upward. Read on for the 26 secrets rich people won’t tell you about their habits and lives.