Personalfinance tips

Update your beneficiaries

Now is also a great time to update your beneficiaries, says Fox. “Review and update beneficiaries for life insurance policies, IRAs, and 401(k)s. Most people rarely look at it, but it’s extremely important, particularly if you have been through major life changes such as getting married, divorced, or having kids,” he says.

Make a five-minute call and ask about discounts

One of the quickest finance tips is to pick up the phone; a quick phone call could save you lots of money. “Send a message to customer support about things you’re currently paying for and see if they’ll give a discount for your continued loyalty. This could result in benefits like a lower rate on credit cards or a lower cable/internet bill,” says Steven Fox, founder of Next Gen Financial Planning.

Create an anti-budget

The word “budget” can seem like a bad word. It just feels … tedious. If you hate budgets but still want to get your finances in shape, Paula Pant at Afford Anything has the answer. “Practice the anti-budget. It’s only two steps: First, figure out what slice of your paycheck you want to ‘save’ — by which I mean, use for anything that’ll improve your financial life, such as making extra debt payments, investing in a 401(k), or literally saving in cash,” she says. “Second, automatically transfer your ‘savings’ from every paycheck into a different account; ideally at a different bank.”

Use cash in certain budget categories

We all have those spending categories that we just can’t seem to tame. To help limit your spending, Steven of Even Steven Money suggests paying cash for those categories. “Take one part of your budget and pay only in cash. I chose coffee and lunch — I take out $20 each week, and when it’s gone, it’s gone,” he says.

Up your retirement contribution

When you’re paying off debt, it’s easy to neglect your future. But you have time on your side, and compound interest can become your best friend if you start saving now. Jim Wang, the personal finance guru behind Wallet Hacks, suggests upping your retirement contribution — even just a little bit. “Just log into your 401(k) and increase your contribution rate by 10 percent. If you were contributing $500, make it $550. You probably won’t miss it, but you’ll love it in retirement,” he says.

Plan fast meals

“I love cooking and cleaning every day after work,” said no one ever. Going out to eat is nice, but can add up fast. Hélène Massicotte from personal finance blog Free to Pursue suggests cooking fast, easy meals with a slow cooker. “With a slow cooker, you can prepare meals for days at a time and not have to worry about burning anything,” she says. “You put the food in, set the timer, and it’s ready when you get home, which helps us all avoid the temptation to grab something on the way home because we’re too tired to cook. And the leftovers are always delicious.”

Create a file for taxes

Tax season is around the corner, so it’s time to get organized. “Start putting all your tax information in that file so you’re ready at tax time. Place info about charitable gifts, Goodwill donations, income from side jobs, etc.,” says Rains.

Have a no-spend day

Sometimes spending can turn into a mindless habit. The more you do it, the easier it becomes. For just one day this month, commit to having a no-spend day. You could save anywhere from a couple of bucks to a lot more, depending on how much you typically spend. This is a good way to hit the reset button and re-evaluate your spending habits.

Find out if you need a raise

Has it been awhile since you got a raise or promotion? Look on PayScale and Glassdoor to see if you need a raise for the new year based on your job, experience, and location. Need some tips before you ask for a pay bump? Learn how to negotiate.

Rich Dad Poor Dad: What the Rich Teach Their Kids About Money That the Poor and Middle Class Do Not!

This was one of the first books about money and finances that I ever truly read. It’s also the one I read over 1-2x times per year. The book is pretty short and a fairly easy read, but it was the first book that really opened my eyes to how I look at money. Rich Dad, Poor Dad was written by Robert T. Kiyosaki over 20 years ago and has sold millions of copies and been translated into dozens of languages. The book explores the myth that you need to be a high-income earner to be rich and explains how to have your money work for you. It’s also the first time I heard about the “pay yourself first” mindset and was key in helping me invest money while tackling personal debt.

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