Welcome back Lumberjacks! It’s time for a new semester, New Year, new opportunities, and new challenges. If you are anything like me, you are still walloping over those Christmas expenses, but have hopefully taken advantage of some of those “after Christmas” sales and are ready to buckle down and start 2015 off on the right financial foot. The New Year is as good a time as any to take an extra look at your finances, see where you are at now, decide on where you would like to be at this time next year, plan on how you are going to get there, and begin to build some good financial habits to ease you along the way. Here are some tips to help you start making 2015 your most financially healthy and successful year to date.
- Review your subscription services.
Did you remember to cancel that Hulu Plus trial? Do you have Beats Music, Spotify, and Pandora subscriptions? Have you read even one “Insider” article from ESPN since fantasy football ended? Today’s economy is flooded with subscription services that are just itching to get a piece of your monthly income. Many of these services are an awesome way to get a lot of bang for your buck if you actively use the services you are paying for; however, too many of us fall prey to the same old subscription service story of forgetting to cancel a free trial or continually paying for a service you may only use a handful of times a month or not at all. I recommend taking some time this new year to go and review all of the services that you are paying for and decide whether or not they are worth the money or should be canceled. This includes all of your digital subscriptions (Netflix, Hulu, Spotify, etc.) and also your non-digital subscriptions (lawn care, cleaning, newspapers, magazines, etc.). Also, keep in mind that it is easier to think of and remember the big, well known subscriptions, but take some time to make sure you aren’t overlooking any smaller, less popular subscriptions you may have forgotten about or not even realized you had signed up and have been paying for.
- Set, start, and enforce some new savings goals.
The New Year is always associated with the establishment of “New Year’s Resolutions” that seem to be easy to follow with full steam until about sometime mid-February or March at which point everyone quickly throws them out the window. Don’t let your savings fall victim to this cliché! When setting personal saving goals I try to utilize 2 techniques to help ensure that I stick with them. The first technique is to try and give yourself a “down payment” for every new savings goal. Even if you only have a couple extra bucks available right now, use that money to start your savings off with a “down payment.” It’s much easier to continue putting money aside for savings if there is already a balance in there that you can watch grow. The second technique I use is to be creative while planning out how, when, and what you are saving for. Some examples of what I mean by this are doing things such as: “every dollar I spend on **** I’m also going to put away one dollar for ****,” putting away $1 the first week of the year, $2 the second week, $3 the third….etc, or maybe finding old things around the house to sell where you put a percentage of every dollar you earn into savings and a percentage in your pocket. Regardless of what you save for or how you save for it, make sure and make saving a priority this year and share what saving techniques work for you on our Knowledge Base.
- Have a plan for your Refund.
This final tip applies mostly to students who receive some sort of outside funding for school, but it can indirectly be applied to almost anyone. Other forms of “refund checks” that one might be the recipient of include getting a tax return or possibly the maturing of savings securities. Whatever your “refund check” may be this spring, the important thing is to have a plan for what you are going to do with it and NOT just stick it in your checking account and consider it extra spending money. I’m not saying that you can’t spend a single penny of what you get back, but have a smart plan before the money hits your account and is carelessly spent before you even realize you have it. Remember that the reason why you are receiving this money is because of some sort of investment whether it was an investment in your education or some other form. Knowing this, it is my suggestion that you “reinvest” whatever refund money you receive. This can be done in a number of different ways. Also, many people don’t realize that you can actually begin to pay off your school loans early. If you’d like to hear some creative ways you can “reinvest” your refund checks, come by our office in room 162 of the McGee business building or ask us a question online through the ASK A QUESTION section of our blog.