As the New Year’s celebration is in our review mirror, it’s time to get serious about those all-important resolutions. You know, the promises you make to yourself to improve your life in the new year. Here are a few suggestions you might want to include:
- Pay off your credit card bills and hide the cards (or cut them up if you can’t stop using them). You really shouldn’t be putting money in the bank or in your retirement plan when you are paying 18%+ on your credit card balances.
- Put 3 to 6 months’ worth of living expenses in the bank. You know how you felt when the economy fell apart and you worried that you couldn’t pay your bills. What are you going to do the next time this happens?
- Put 10% of everything you make into your retirement plan. You know you won’t have enough unless you do.
- Invest in a great, low-cost, stock mutual fund and own it forever. Or own a bunch of them. When the stock market goes in the tank keep buying – those great companies of the world are on sale. But keep a miserly eye on expenses – the hidden, and not-so-hidden, costs will kill your returns.
- Go see a lawyer and get that durable power of attorney and a will created. If you slip on the ice, crack your head, and go into a coma, who’s going to be able to pay your bills? Your spouse? Not without these documents or a whole lot of trouble and expense.
- If you have children, put some money in to 529 college savings accounts each month to help them out. You know how expensive college is and you know they’ll need it.
- Invest in yourself. Get more training, go back to school, find a mentor to show you a new career. Keep growing, be flexible and open to new experiences. Find your true passion and then give it everything you have.
- Get organized. Abolish that pile of papers that has been stacking up all year. Create an electronic file system and folder every account and bill you pay. When the bill comes in put it in the file. After seven years of files delete the eighth year’s files. The trash can is your friend – use it.
- Spend more time with your family. When all else looks bleak, they will be your strength and your support. And you know how fast time goes by. Turn off the TV and the video game and talk to your children and grandchildren, parents and grandparents. Read them a book, ask them about their day or have them tell you a story about the old days. Learn from their experiences so you can make this coming year a better year for you and them.
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