Going to the gym, eating better, kicking a bad habit - there are thousands of New Year's resolutions that can help you live better in 2018. But when was the last time you put your financial health in check?
This is the year to figure out exactly what's most important to you and your money. Here are five financial resolutions you shouldn't put off in 2018.
Check out your credit report
Don't know your credit score? You're not alone, studies show nearly 60% of Americans are in the same boat. Those three numbers can impact whether lenders extend you credit and at what interest rate, so it's important to know what yours are.
A simple way to find out your score — and get a picture of your debt and spot any inaccuracies — is to request a copy of your credit report. You can get one free from each of the three credit reporting bureaus — TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax — once every 12 months at annualcreditreport.com. Be sure to check all three reports, as there may be variations between them. You can request the reports at once, or stagger them throughout the year to get an up-to-date snapshot of your debt.
Visit www.AnnualCreditReport.com to order your free annual credit report.
Get out of debt
The average household is paying more than $6,600 in interest on debt each year, according to NerdWallet. That equates to roughly 9% of the average household income.
If you're re-examining your budget this month, you may also want to consider how you're paying off your debt. Prioritizing debt with higher interest rates often makes mathematical sense, but knocking out smaller loans first can offer a psychological boost and help motivate you to tackle even more debt.
Come up with a budget you can stick to
Is your wallet feeling the post-holiday hangover? The new year is an ideal time to reassess your budget and create one you can more easily follow. One strategy? Project expenses to the next month and match those numbers.
Another option, is to follow the 50/20/30 rule: 50% of your earnings is for essentials, such as housing, food, utilities, and transportation; 20% is for savings, including retirement accounts, emergency funds, or debt repayments; and 30% is for nonessentials, including entertainment, travel, and shopping.
Spend money on what's important to you
With the rise of one-click purchasing, it's never been easier to spend money. Making a habit of looking at credit card and bank statements on a monthly basis can help you track spending and ensure you're allocating resources toward things that are important to you.
Download the free MNB Mobile App to see your accounts, transfer money and make deposits anytime!
In fact, it's okay to give yourself permission to buy items that can improve your life and help you save money in the long run. For instance, a $100 single-cup coffee maker is more expensive than a drip coffee maker, but if you actually use it, it will save you from spending big on daily trips to your local coffee house.
Get serious about your savings
If you had to come up with $400 for an emergency expense, would you have enough in savings to cover it? Nearly half of Americans said no, according to a report by the Federal Reserve Board's Division of Consumer and Community Affairs.
Setting short- and long-term goals can guide your savings. One way to start is to establish a time horizon for each goal, figure out a dollar amount each will cost, and set your priorities and savings plan accordingly.
Having big-picture goals can also help clarify your priorities. It becomes easier, when you have those long-term goals in mind, to see the difference between needs and wants today.
Whether you decide to review your credit report, reassess your savings plan, or create a budget you'll follow, taking the time now to get your financial house in order can help you start the year off on the right foot.