Washington - Ask any behaviourist: resolutions rarely work.
They are too big and sweeping. The minute you fall off the bandwagon, you
abandon attempts to climb back on, mostly because you're too busy hating
So forget about the "I'm going to lose 10 kilos and
track every penny that I spend" fervour. Instead, just do what does work -
actionable small steps. Here's a list of ways you can improve your finances in
2012, usually in just a few minutes at a time, and without any self-loathing.
- Set up at least one automatic investment besides your
401(k) account. You can open up a regular taxable mutual fund account with a
company that offers low-cost index funds, or start a Roth IRA. Either way,
authorise the new account to sweep a fixed amount out of your checking account
Even if you start with just $50 a month, you'll begin to
accumulate an extra savings account you'll be happy to have. And the regular
investments will serve you during volatile markets.
- Put your credit cards in order. Make two lists: one should
include any cards that you currently have a balance on, listed in order of
interest rates, highest to lowest. You can use that list to pay extra to the
top card on the list until the balance is zero, and then work your way down.
If you have rewards cards with zero balances, make a
separate list of them, with their rewards specifics; for example 3% on
groceries, 1% on everything else. Use this list to determine which card you use
- Do a balance transfer if you think you can't pay your
balance down within two months. Comparison site LowCards.com is currently
listing an offer for the Slate Visa card from Chase that has no balance
transfer fee and a 0% interest rate for six months to a year, depending on how
good your credit score is.
If you are carrying a credit card balance that you can't pay
off in a month or two, switch it to a card like this, and then make sure you
pay it off before the introductory rate falls away.
- Comparison shop for your insurance. It's true that Geico
has made a national advertising campaign out of the 15-minute insurance
shopping phone call, but you really can get quotes in about that amount of
time, on auto and home policies.