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Make It Count: Financial New Year’s Resolutions for 2014

Happy New Year! It’s January, which means the champagne has stopped flowing, the Christmas tree has been recycled or boxed away, and your new 2014 calendar is waiting to be filled with appointments and events.

How are your new year’s resolutions coming along? Is “get my finances in order” on that list? If not, please add it! While improving your financial picture may seem daunting, it doesn’t have to be.

Here are some tried-and-true tips to help you get into great financial shape.

  • Create a budget and monitor it. It doesn’t have to be complicated – create a plan by using the “50/20/30” rule. Then track all your transactions with budgeting software or apps such as Mint.com or Check. By monitoring your progress, you’ll gain a better understanding of how you spend your hard-earned dollars, and can adjust your budget as needed.
  • Get out of debt. You knew this one was coming. Getting out of debt is one of the most commonly broken New Year’s resolutions. But it doesn’t have to be! First, take advantage of our SavvyMoney Checkup, a free financial tool that helps you set up a budget, a debt payment plan, and more. Other steps: Monitor your credit report and correct any erroneous information. And try to rely on cash or debit card – giving your credit card some needed time off.
  • Pay yourself first. After all, you’re worth it! Building a nest egg is one of the best things you can do for yourself. Whether you’re aiming to buy a house, take that round-the-world trip you’ve been dreaming about, or build a comfortable retirement, allocate part of each paycheck to a savings account before paying anyone else. Better yet, if your employer offers a 401(k) or 403(b), you can have automatic deductions from your pre-tax pay deposited into your account. And if you want to get a jump on holiday or vacation expenses for 2014, consider our automatic-deposit Club savings accounts.
  • Increase your 401(k) or 403(b) contribution. Speaking of paying yourself, raise your monthly contribution to your 401(k) or 403(b), even it’s just by a bit. And if your company matches your contribution, by all means, try to take advantage of that as much as possible.
  • Build an emergency fund. Because it’s always good to have a safety cushion: Build three to six months’ worth of expenses in an emergency fund (take a look at our high-yield money market account) to help pay for unexpected situations. For a family with a mortgage, that’s about $30,000. For a single person, bank on $10,000 to $15,000.

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