AUBURN UNIVERSITY, Ala. – As the end of 2018 quickly approaches, make sure to give your finances a checkup and discover if you need to make saving a New Year’s resolution. You may discover that you have debt that needs to be paid down or that you are ready to take the next step in savings.
Sharlean Briggs, an Alabama Extension regional agent of family resource management and workforce development, said everyone should strive to save for the future.
“Saving successfully for the future should be near the top of your resolution list, and it is one resolution you can’t afford to break,” Briggs said. “Remember, you don’t have to make a lot of money to save successfully. You can start small.”
Briggs offers the following six resolutions for you to add to your New Years’ list.
Get Out of Debt
The best investment most borrowers can make is to pay off consumer debt with double-digit interest rates. How to do it: Find places to cut your spending so that you can pay down your debts faster.
Save for Emergencies
Having an emergency savings fund may be the most important difference between those who manage to stay afloat and those who are sinking financially. In a recent survey, only 49 percent of families said they had extra funds (not including lines of credit) available to pay for an unexpected expense of $1,000. Don’t find yourself unprepared in 2019. How to do it: Save a portion of your tax refund.
Save for Retirement
Many employees turn down free money from their employer by not signing up for a work-related retirement program such as a 401(k) plan. If they did participate, with a dollar-for-dollar match they would likely receive an annual yield of greater than 100 percent on their investment. How to do it: Participate in a work-related retirement program or open up a Roth IRA. Already saving? Increase the amount you save toward retirement by 1 percent in 2019.
Make Savings Automatic
It can be hard to put aside money for savings. But there is an easy way to save money without ever missing it – Make your savings automatic in 2019.
Buy a Home and Pay Off the Mortgage Before You Retire
The largest asset of most middle-income families is their home equity. Once families have made their last mortgage payment, they have far lower housing expenses. How to do it: Almost anyone can afford to own a home with proper preparation. Develop a savings plan to build up money for a down payment at purchase, for moving expenses, and for post-purchase emergency expenditures such as needed home repairs.
Save a Portion of Your Tax Refund
Tax Time is a great time to kick start or grow your savings for the future! Use the 30 – 40 – 30 plan. Designate 30 percent of your refund to pay off debt and catch up on outstanding bills. Earmark 40 percent for current use. Use 30 percent to jump start an emergency fund or long term savings. You can use form 8888 to buy a U.S. Savings Bonds. Bonds are a safe and easy way to save for the future.
For more information on how you can save for the future, visit www.aces.edu or contact your county Extension office.