Getting your finances in order in the new year

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PHOENIX - It's the New Year and there is no better time to get your financial house in order.

An expert sat down with 3 On Your Side to share six small steps that pay off big.

“The last two years have been an economic tsunami and everyone has to relook at situation to see going forward, what is their best direction,” Jacob Gold said.

Jacob Gold, a certified financial planner, and author of Financial Intelligence sat down with 3 On Your Side to share his top money steps you can take right now for 2010.

“Everyone needs to have emergency fund, I feel at least three months,” he said. “If you don't have two dimes to rub together, it might be a difficult goal to accomplish but nonetheless it is a goal - try to save $50 per month.”

Money step number two is you need a budget.

“So many individuals have no idea what is coming in and what is leaving,” Gold said.

Gold suggests writing down your budget or getting software like Quicken to help you keep track.

“A lot of times people are dumbfounded as to how much goes to little things,” he said. “Maxing out your match inside your 401k.”

If your company puts in dollar for dollar match up to 3%, he says you should put in at least 3% of your pay.

Fourth on his list of small money steps that pay off big is getting rid of credit card debt.

Gold said before you do anything else in the new year come up with a game plan to pay down your debt. Once you do that and you have your emergency money in place, “then start getting into the market using stocks and bonds even if it's baby steps, even if it's $50 per month.

“Fifth is exploring Roth IRA. There are few investments out there that grow tax free and Roth IRA is one of them.”

And finally number six is to have proper estate planning.

“Everybody needs to have simple durable power of attorney and living will,” Gold said.

Gold said it doesn't have to cost you a lot of money to do it. If you can't hire an estate planning attorney go online and see what your options are. Gold said sites like legalzoom.com offer low cost options to help you get the proper documents in place.

“Whether you have a little money or a lot everybody needs to have a simple will in place,” he said.
Six small money steps Gold says pay off big if people plan, pay attention and learn.