Get more exercise. Lose weight. Quit smoking. These are the bold boasts of New Year’s resolutions. Folks commit themselves to radically changing their lives at the start of the calendar year. According to inc.com, “studies show that about 60% of us make New Year’s resolutions each year – sadly, only about 8% of us achieve them.” Most of our resolutions revolve around physical health and wellness. For our purposes here, that same line of thinking can be taken in the context of your financial health. Let’s look at some of the most oft-made New Year’s resolutions and how to translate them into personal finance resolutions. We’ve also included a few tips on how to stick to them!
Quit smoking: Choose your credit cards wisely
Quitting smoking is the most common New Year’s resolution, and with good reason. Smoking is bad for you in the present and in the future. It’s powerfully addictive, though, and very difficult to put those cigarettes down.
Similarly addictive, and just as bad for you in a different way, is excessive credit card debt. If you do need and must use a credit card, focus on cards that will save you money with low rates and/or pay you great rewards.
With all of Radiant Credit Union’s Platinum VISA® credit cards, including business cards, we’ll put a dime into your Radiant CU account every time you make a qualifying purchase. An added benefit of all Radiant credit cards is that they carry no annual fee and the interest rates applied to balances carried over are several percentage points below the norm at most other institutions.
With Radiant Credit Union’s Platinum Rewards card, you earn 1 point for every $1 spent, plus you get a dime every time it’s used. You can choose to redeem your points from among hundreds of items including gift cards, merchandise, travel experiences, charitable donations, fuel rewards or cash back. Remember to use your Radiant Platinum Rewards card for all your credit purchases and watch the points add up.
Learn more at https://www.radiantcu.org/loans/credit-cards.shtml.
Eat healthy: Start investing
Eating right and taking care of yourself are good steps toward a long and healthy future. A well-balanced diet can make you feel years younger. It can even save you money on doctor’s visits and prescription drugs.
To set yourself up for a bright financial future, start planning for retirement now. At the very least, make this the year you max out retirement contributions. If you don’t have an IRA or similar retirement account, that’s another good place to start. Looking at a number like $6,000 (the maximum IRA contribution in 2020) can be discouraging. Who has that kind of money sitting around? It’s helpful to break that down – $458 out of each month’s income will get you to the maximum. You can set up automatic withdrawals that go into an IRA or savings account to make the process go more smoothly. Radiant Credit Union offers both Traditional and Roth IRAs to help you invest in your future. Learn more at https://www.radiantcu.org/accounts/savings.shtml.
Cut down on stress: Save for big events
Stress is a big-time killer. It shortens your life and makes the remainder less fun to live. Resolving to take time for yourself and your family can improve your life dramatically.
The holidays are usually an expensive time of year. Many families finance their gift-giving with credit cards, and the bills come due just a few weeks after the festivities end – talk about stress! Starting the New Year in a financial hole will certainly dampen your plans to live stress-free.
Instead of beating yourself up when you get those bills mid-winter, resolve now to do better in the coming year. Instead of panicking about holiday expenses after you’ve funded them on credit each year, why not pay a little bit toward those costs all year long? When you open a Special Share savings account at Radiant Credit Union, you can set up an automatic monthly transfer from your checking account, and you’ll be spreading the cost of your holiday gifts across the entire year. Each month, you’ll deposit just a little bit toward funding those holiday expenses. When December rolls around, you’ll have all the money you need, without taking a huge bite out of your monthly budget or going back into debt. Find out more by speaking to a Radiant representative about opening a Special Share savings account to help cover those holiday costs.
While setting up and routinely funding a savings account now will help you with holiday expenses this coming fall, it won’t do much to cut down on the stress of paying the holiday bills coming due this month. If you used retail-store, high-rate credit cards this year, you can save money on interest right now on rollover balances by transferring them to Radiant Credit Union at a much lower rate. Learn more at: https://www.radiantcu.org/accounts/savings.shtml and https://www.radiantcu.org/loans/credit-cards.shtml.
Lose weight: Trim the fat from your budget
Retailers have Black Friday in November; gyms have the best deals on January 2nd. Everyone will be trying to shed the holiday pounds by spinning, swimming and sweating. The rewards are substantial: People who weigh less are more likely to be promoted at work, live longer and even spend less each year.
There’s another place you can trim fat besides your belly, and that’s your budget. Make a plan to sit down and really look at how you spend money each week. Look for places you can make cuts without sacrificing things you enjoy. Pay special attention to groceries and meals out.
Don’t feel like you have to give up everything at once. If you’re eating out twice a week, don’t try to go immediately to zero. It’s a good idea to start slow when beginning to physically work out, and starting slow with cutting back your expenses isn’t a bad idea either. That way, you reduce the potential for snapping back hard and deep into reckless spending habits.
Your turn: In the comments below, tell us about your financial New Year’s Resolutions.