financial tips for 2016
January 26, 2016

By Guest Blogger: Tony Armstrong, NerdWallet

If you’re one of the 44% of Americans who made New Year’s resolutions, chances are at least one will have to do with money. But instead of simply telling yourself that you’ll be more responsible with your cash in 2016, make your goals as specific and detailed as possible.
Here are a handful of financial tips that’ll get you moving in the right direction.

Re-evaluate your budget

A carefully crafted budget is the foundation of any strong financial plan. Take some time to determine what changes your budget needs by reviewing your spending habits. 

Are there certain spending categories, like meals out, that you could cut back on? Are there expenses, like your monthly cable bill, that you could eliminate altogether? These are the types of questions to ask when reviewing and adjusting your budget.

  • Tip #1: Track your spending for three months, counting every purchase, withdrawal and swipe, and eliminate things you can live without.

Increase your retirement account contributions

Ideally, revamping your budget will free up some cash to put to better use elsewhere. Although a small portion of that money can go toward financing something fun, the majority of it should be spent wisely, and there aren’t many money moves smarter than saving for retirement.

A dollar saved today will be worth much more 30 years from now, and having multiple long-term retirement accounts can help ensure a financially stable retirement.

Start prepping for tax season

In 2015, the average tax refund was $2,785. Rushing to file your taxes at the last minute, however, could lead you to overlook certain tax credits. To avoid leaving money on the table, be sure to get started on your taxes well before the April 18th deadline (note the date change for 2016!).

  • Tip #4: Organize all of your paperwork, like your W-2 and 1099 forms and any receipts, and consult your tax pro (or your tax software) to figure out whether taking the standard deduction or itemizing your deductions will result in a larger refund.

It’s not a fortune, but a couple thousand dollars can come in handy, especially if you’re looking to bolster your retirement savings or have credit card debt that needs to be paid off.

There are a number of ways to get financially fit this year, from the small (selling unwanted gift cards from the holidays) to the large and perhaps impractical (moving to a city with a lower cost of living). The best advice, though, is to stay vigilant. Think about how your decisions affect your financial well-being. Practicing good behavior throughout this year means you won’t have to make a money resolution for 2017.

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