With about 66% of U.S. adults intending to make new money resolutions in 2023, according to a recent Fidelity Investments report, it’s a good time to figure out what kind of money moves you should make once Jan. 1 comes and goes.
The sooner you make those decisions and start acting on them, the better.
“It’s always good to reflect at the beginning of the year on what you want to achieve financially in the year to come,” said Well Kept Wallet founder Deacon Hayes. “This way you can be proactive instead of reactive when it comes to achieving your financial goals.”
For example, if you want to save $1,000 by the end of the year, you can start by saving $100 per month in January. “Then, by the time October comes around, you will have the $1,000 saved,” Hayes noted.
2023, in particular, looks like a good year to focus on personal finances given the economic problems the nation faced in 2022--and will face heading into 2023.
According to a recent survey conducted by TopCashback, “only 61% of Americans feel financially confident going into the new year, and 39% of respondents feel less financially confident than they did at the same time last year.”
In addition, the survey found that over half (54%) of Americans will take a ‘break’ from shopping for non-essential items once the new year begins.
“Taking a shopping hiatus can be a great place to start, especially if you’re recovering from holiday debt,” said TopCashback consumer finance expert Rebecca Gramuglia.
Top Personal Financial Moves to Make in January
Once the party hats and champagne are stashed away after New Year’s Eve, it’s time to get busy on some game-changing household finance moves.
Maybe you’ve been thinking about some personal finance changes or maybe conditions are so urgent those moves need to be made right now. In any event, let’s get started with these five financial action steps that money experts say are well worth your while as 2021 kicks off.
Pay down high-interest debt. One of the best money moves you can make is to pay off your high-interest debt, most likely from credit cards.
“The best way to do this is to create a list of your debts and write down how much you owe on each debt,” Hayes said. “The most effective debt payoff method is the “debt snowball” strategy. This is where you pay off your debts smallest to largest regardless of the interest rate.”
“Once you pay off the first debt, you take the amount you were paying on that debt and roll it into the next smallest debt,” Hayes advised. “This builds momentum because the amount of money you have to pay down on your debt grows each month and therefore your debts start to get paid off more quickly,” he said.
Save for an emergency fund. Another smart money move is to put money into savings for an emergency fund.
A good rule of thumb is to have between three-to-six months’ worth of expenses in your emergency fund.
“For example, if your expenses are $3,000 per month, it would be good to have $9,000 to $18,000 in your emergency fund,” Hayes said. “This way, when an emergency happens, you don't have to go into debt because you would have the cash to pay for it.”
Automate your savings. Once you’ve got a grip on where you stand financially at the start of 2023, go ahead and automate your household savings plan.
“Assuming you’re paying off your monthly debt and have some funds left, allocate and automate transferring funds to your various savings accounts,” said Treehouse Wealth Advisors chief executive officer Julie Meissner. “If you get a pay raise or a bonus, boost your contributions to your retirement account by the same percentage as your raise. Also, use your bonus to sock away extra dollars to your children’s 529s or get a jump on your “fun” budget for the year.”
Optimize your retirement savings. The launch of a new year is a great time to maximize your retirement contributions and look for other ways to invest money in a tax-advantaged manner.
“As of January 2023, the 401(k)contribution limit will be $22,500,” said Em-Powered Network founder Vanessa Martinez. “This means you should adjust your monthly contributions to make sure you’re fully contributing. You can also contribute a total of $6,500 in 2023 to an IRA or ROTH IRA.”
Review your progress. Make sure to review the financial goals you set last January and see how your year measured up.
“Seeing your growth, or lack thereof will help you set more realistic goals in 2023,” Martinez noted.
If you didn’t have any personal financial goals in 2023, start them now. That way, in 2024 you’ll have a baseline household financial plan well underway – with great results if you follow through.