If anyone doubts that personal finance has burst onto the scene as a mainstream topic, look at the top 10 New Year’s resolutions published in the Journal of Clinical Psychology.
- Lose weight Duh.
- Get organized Clutter is such a problem.
- Spend less, save more Really? Which is ahead of…
- Enjoy life
- Get fit
- Learn something new
- Quit smoking
- Help others
- Fall in love
- Spend time with family
It seems that Americans really are taking their finances to heart. According to Fidelity Investments, a record 46% of individuals will make a New Year’s financial resolution for 2013. The top two in its survey are (drum roll, please) spend less and save more. Meanwhile, a record 62% say they stuck with their financial resolutions from a year ago.
Not all polls are in sync. TD Ameritrade found that health and self-improvement resolutions swamped financial resolutions for 2013. Allianz Life found that 84% of adults left financial planning off their list entirely. The top reason: They say they don’t make enough money to worry about it. Still, the Allianz poll also found that financial stability was deemed the second most important area of focus for next year, behind health and wellness.
If finances are top of mind for you in 2013, here are some tips from Mint.com, Quicken and Merrill Edge:
- Set a spending budget The most dangerous way to spend is to swipe your credit card and wait until the end of the month to check the damage. Once you have a full picture of where your money goes each month, you can find more places to save.
- Set a savings budget Whether it’s saving for retirement, a down payment on a house or eliminating debt, pay yourself first by setting aside a portion of each paycheck. Learn to make do with what’s left.
- Meet monthly with your spouse Regular discussions lead to greater financial confidence. Getting into the routine can be the hardest part, but scheduling a monthly meeting is an easy way to begin.
- Raise your 401(k) contribution Big companies that offer 401(k) plans typically match your contributions at a rate f 25 cents to $1 on the dollar, up to 6% of your salary. That’s a great return.
- Create an emergency fund Make 2013 the year that your family is financially secure. Build three to six months’ worth of expenses in an emergency fund. For a typical single person, that’s normally $10,000 to $15,000. If you have a family and a mortgage, aim for around $30,000. That total is less daunting if you make automatic payments from your bank account.