You got yourself the sparkliest holiday party dress. You got your friend that nice bottle of wine for hosting the party. You got a ride home from the party from a guy named Uber who has a thing called surge pricing. Gulp. We feel you. It can be easy to let the holidays get the best of you…and your wallet. Even if you planned ahead and stayed on budget this holiday season (High five!) the new year can be a great time to evaluate your finances and perhaps, make some changes.
For some tips to getting back on track financially after splurging a little (or a lot) this holiday season, we decided to consult a pro. Founder of Young Adult Money, David Carlson, says that there are many things that can be done to improve your finances, but to not overthink it. Taking a few simple steps can make a difference and help set you up for financial success this year. Here are a four tips he has to get you started.
If you don’t know what you’re spending your money on, you won’t be able to make positive changes to how you spend your money. Commit to tracking your income and expenses each month, either in an Excel spreadsheet or an app like Mint or Personal Capital.
Once you’ve started to track your spending, take a good hard look at where your money is going. Are you spending more on entertainment than you’d like? Is cable really worth $120 a month? Identify areas you can cut back and make a plan to keep yourself accountable.
Are you carrying a balance on a credit card? More likely than not, you are paying very high interest rates on that debt. Prioritize paying off this debt and take advantage of a 0% APR balance transfer credit card if possible.
If you don’t already, set up automatic contributions to your 401k or other retirement account, Health Savings Account, and an emergency fund (a savings account will do). If you already have these contributions set up consider adjusting the contribution percentages–preferably setting them higher than the previous year.
Maribel is a lifelong public media fan and as director of Rewire, oversees the site’s strategy and operations. When she isn’t catching up on the latest digital publishing trends, she enjoys traveling, flamenco dancing and going on adventures with her doggos.