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 5 Money Hacks for A Happy New Year

Courtesy of DaveRamsey.com

December 11, 2017 - 4:02 pm

Do you ever feel like you’re in a chronic cash crunch? That can put a real damper on your days, and take the hope and expectation out of a new year.

But if money tops your list of New Year’s resolutions, you’re in luck! Research shows you’re on the road to success. According to Fidelity Investments, 56 percent of people who resolved to improve their finances last year did just that. Better yet, 83 percent said last year’s financial resolution is an ongoing event instead of a one-time goal. Who knew change could be so exciting?

Put those resolutions into action — and get a leg up on your happy New Year — with these five money hacks.

1. Use Cold, Hard Cash

Lots of folks choose plastic over cash for everyday purchases, and research shows that can lead you to spend more. Why? According to a Journal of Experimental Psychology study, parting with cash really is sweet sorrow. Plastic simply doesn’t tug at your emotional strings in quite the same way.

So, put a little more pain back into your purchases. Use envelopes to divvy your dollars up across everyday budget categories. You might have one for groceries, restaurants, entertainment, clothing, and pocket money.

On payday, fill your envelopes with the cash you budgeted for each category. When an envelope’s empty, the spending stops for that category until your next paycheck. It’s that simple!

2. Give Impulse Buys a 30-day Notice

You went to the store for one thing, and somehow ended up with a cart full of stuff. Sound familiar? If so, join the crowd. A recent study found five in six Americans are impulse shoppers.

We all know it pays to sleep on a big money decision overnight. But what about smaller purchases that crop up throughout the month? Why not add them to your wish list and wait 30 days? That gives you a chance to work them into next month’s budget. And who knows? That can’t-live-without item you had your eye on just might be on sale by then.

3. Ignore Interest Rates when Paying Down Debt

Want to put a big dent in your debt this year? You might be tempted to grab debt by the jugular, and attack the biggest interest rate first. But it takes more than math to win. According to Fidelity, the number one reason people stick to a money resolution is because they’re encouraged by their progress.

That’s where the debt snowball comes in. Here’s how it works: List your debts in order by outstanding balance, and attack the smallest one first. Once you knock it out, roll that cash over to your next debt, working your way up to the biggest of the bunch. You’ll build momentum — and motivation—as you watch your debts disappear and your cash grow!

4. Go Roth with Your 401(k)

These days, most full-time workers have access to a 401(k) through their employer. This is a great way to save for retirement, because it enables you to make pre-tax contributions for your future.

What you may not know is many employers offer a Roth 401(k) option, too. According to a Willis Towers Watson study, 54 percent of large and midsize companies do, yet only 10 percent of employees take advantage. That means lots of folks are missing out on tax-free growth.

And now, any pretax match dollars your employer puts in can be converted to a Roth. That’s means even more opportunity for tax-free growth. Just keep in mind that you do have to pay taxes on any money you convert. An investing professional can show you how it works, so you can weigh your options and choose the strategy that’s right for you.

5. Take Advantage of Free Financial Education

It’s no secret that money issues can cause big-time stress. According to the American Psychological Association, 72 percent of adults worry about money, and 32 percent say money woes stand between them and a healthy lifestyle.

This stress can distract you on the job, too. It’s hard to get work done when you’re preoccupied with money problems. No wonder almost 90 percent of employers surveyed by Aon Hewitt had considered implementing a financial wellness program.

If your company offers this benefit, don’t miss out. It’s a great way to learn how to manage your money, and plan for the future. That’s something everyone can feel good about!

—Used with permission from DaveRamsey.com

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