A new year often inspires new habits, including financial ones. If you want to put yourself on a path to build wealth throughout the year, then consider these 25 steps, all of which are designed to help you rein in spending and work toward greater financial security. They include both offensive moves, like saving more, as well as defensive ones, like protecting yourself from identity thieves.
Sharing financial goals with friends – and even strangers through social media – can help you articulate just what those goals are and also hold you accountable. Indeed, research on goal-setting suggests that making public statements about goals helps people commit to them, whether they be money or health related. As 2016 kicks off, consider sharing your goals on Facebook, Twitter or a social goal-setting site like Linkagoal.
If you’re stuck, flipping through images can help inspire and focus goal-setting, says Ellen Rogin, a financial services professional and co-author of “Picture Your Prosperity: Smart Money Moves to Turn Your Vision into Reality.” She encourages people to flip through motivational images such as beaches and sailboats when planning their retirement. This exercise is especially useful for partners to make sure they’re on the same page.
Identity thieves can steal not just your money but also your identity, which allows them to create new, fraudulent accounts in your name. The cost can add up to tens of thousands of dollars as well as hours of your time trying to rectify the situation.
One of the most common online identity theft methods is for an attacker to send an email with a hyperlink that leads victims to an official-looking site that requests personal information. People can be fooled into sharing their names, addresses, credit card numbers and even Social Security numbers this way. To keep yourself safe, avoid clicking on unfamiliar URLs sent to you via email, even if at first glance they appear to be from your bank or a retailer.
If you’re lucky enough to have a job with benefits, then it pays to make sure you’re getting as much out of them as possible. Aside from salary, take a close look at available retirement accounts (making sure to pick up any matching benefits), flexible spending accounts, financial literacy programs and wellness support, which can include free counseling. Health insurance and disability insurance can also help protect your finances in the long term.
Apps can make it easier to protect bank accounts from fraud and save more money, and it can pay to use them. Some of the best entrants in the field include BillGuard, an app that flags potential fraudulent charges or errors, and Key Ring, which collects your loyalty cards digitally, so you can snag savings even if you leave your cards at home.
Other useful financial tools include PriceGrabber and RedLaser, which help you quickly compare prices when shopping online or in stores, and PriceBlink, a browser add-on that lets you know if there is a lower price elsewhere online. Mint offers a free budgeting tool to help you track your spending, and You Need a Budget is another good option.
Financial literacy is a key factor when it comes to adults building wealth over time, according to research at the University of Massachusetts. If people understand basic concepts when it comes to saving, investing and compound interest, then they are more likely to sit on a significant nest egg as they get older. That’s why making an effort to educate yourself, whether through workplace education programs or online tutorials, can pay off.
Coordinating your spending and saving habits with your partner can not only lead to a smoother relationship, it can also mean more money in your joint bank accounts. The blogging couple Derek and Carrie Olsen of derekandcarrie.com suggest holding a monthly get-together to review finances and to share one bank account, which can ease coordination. They also advocate developing a five-year plan, which can help guide daily choices.
If you’re often tempted by emails promising amazing deals and killer savings, then you might want to consider unsubscribing from the dozens of retailer email lists you may have unknowingly signed up for. The tool Unroll.Me makes it easy; with a few clicks you can either unsubscribe or opt for a daily “Rollup” email that you can peruse at your leisure, instead of constantly getting pinged by unimportant emails all day long.
As you get older and prepare to retire, it’s important to make sure your money will last. That means ensuring your investments are in a portfolio that’s aggressive enough to outpace inflation and reviewing your budget for any big leaks. You can also ask your bank what services they have in place to protect older adults from fraud.
Culled from: US NEWS.COM
Written By: Kimberly Palmer is a senior editor for U.S. News Money. She is the author of the new book, “The Economy of You.” You can follow her on Twitter @KimberlyPalmer, connect with her on Facebook or email her at email@example.com.