By Pamela Jones RN, BSN
Pamela is a registered nurse and the Health Education Specialist at Boone Hospital Center.
Welcome to 2012: a new year and maybe a new you!! Do you make New Year’s resolutions or goals? If so, maybe you want to relax more, exercise more, spend more time with family, or retire soon. No matter what your New Year brings, or what your goals are, WELLAWARE would like to wish you a Happy New Year and share with you 10 ideas to improve your finances in 2012.
1. Automate your savings account to put money away each month. A good starting point is with 2-4% of your salary. That amount can really grow. If you are already saving, consider raising the amount in which you put into savings every month.
2. Get rid of junk mail. The website catalogchoice.org lets retailers know which customers no longer want to receive their mail. Participating companies agree to stop sending any more catalogs within three months. Signing up with 41pounds.org halts junk mail.
3. Keep a spending diary. You do not have to do this long term. Just tracking for 2 weeks may reveal some pretty big money eating habits you have.
4. Cook at home. Avoid budget busting dinners out and cut down on food waste. Jonathan Bloom, author of American Wasteland, estimates that Americans waste at least 160 billion pounds of food each year.
5. Use less energy. Close doors to unused rooms, unplug appliances, turn off lights, and shut down computers at night. All of these simple steps can make a serious dent in utility bills.
6. Be informed but not inundated with news & market fluctuations. If your investments are well-diversified, you’ve done all you can.
7. If you have a credit card, choose one that can work for you. If you pay your balance off each month, you should have a card that gives you rewards points. If you carry debt, just focus on getting the card with the lowest interest rate.
8. Instead of setting a big goal this year, try setting small, achievable goals that are very specific.
9. Check up on your insurance policies. Do you have the auto insurance, renters insurance, and life insurance that you need? Life insurance can be an awkward topic, but many people are under-insured, which puts their families at risk.
10. Improve your credit score. The easiest way to do this is by making steady, on-time payments every month. Get your free credit report once a year at AnnualCreditReport.com to check for any mistakes (and fix them).