For many people, the new year is a time for new goals – especially ones involving money. For 2013, we came up with 10 things you can do to boost your savings and strengthen your finances.
1. Ladder Your CDs
As Bankrate points out, CD rates are currently at record lows. But you can increase your CD savings by creating a CD ladder. Don’t know how to make one? Our October post on CD laddering and our new CD laddering tool can help you get started.
2. Roll Over Your 401(k)
Do you have a 401(k) lingering with a past employer? If so, take control of your finances – and your future – and consider rolling it over to an IRA. Don’t forget that Ally offers an IRA Raise Your Rate CD that gives you the option of increasing your rate if interest rates rise.
3. Use Online Tools to Get Ahead
A quick web search can reveal a wealth of online tools built to help you make the most of your money. For instance, Bankrate offers several helpful calculators, including a simple savings calculator and one for college savings. And don’t forget about Mint and other mobile applications that can help you save money and stick to your budget.
4. Visit a Financial Planner
Want some help coming up with a financial strategy? Consider visiting a financial planner. He or she can give you advice on a range of financial initiatives, from saving for retirement to preparing for your child’s education.
5. Open an IRA
Boomers between the ages of 55 and 65 are concerned about retirement health care costs and the future of Social Security, according to a study by the Allianz Life Insurance Company (via Fox Business). If this sounds like you, think about opening an IRA or increasing your current IRA contributions to ensure you’re financially prepared for your later years.
6. Be Smart About Points and Perks
Credit cards can be helpful financial tools – but only if you’re using them correctly. In addition to paying off your balance in full each month, make 2013 all about taking advantage of credit card points and cash-back incentives. You may also want to review the cards in your wallet and get rid of any with minimal perks or that you no longer use. Also, if you don’t like the interest rates on any of your cards, see if you can get them lowered. And don’t forget about checking rewards and benefits. For instance, Ally Bank has Ally Perks®, which gives you money back when you shop at participating retailers using your Ally Checking Debit Card.
7. Go Green
Everyone knows that going green is good for the environment — but it can also be good for your wallet. Good Morning America notes that you can save money and help the environment by carpooling, performing a home energy audit and adjusting your water heater temperature settings, among other things.
8. Prepare for Education Costs
The average tuition at a four-year public university climbed 15 percent between 2008 and 2010, according to USA Today. That means it’s more important than ever to financially prepare for your child’s education. Get started in 2013 by opening a savings account, or looking into a 529 college savings plan.
9. Build a Solid Emergency Fund
We can’t stress this enough: a solid emergency fund containing at least 3 to 6 months of living expenses is a financial necessity. You never know when a job loss, medical emergency or other unforeseen event could leave you in need of cash. If you’ve been putting this off, put it at the top of your 2013 financial to-do list.
10. Sell What You Don’t Need
Did your child’s toy collection triple in size this holiday season? Or maybe it’s been ages since you went through your closet and purged it of stuff you no longer wear. If you have items sitting around the house that you no longer need, consider selling or donating them. Doing so can lead to less clutter, a bit of extra cash or even a tax break.
What is on your financial to-do list for 2013? Will you visit a financial planner to help you reach your goals?