Financial resolutions everyone should make in 2015

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PHOENIX -- Every year around this time, Americans across the country start vowing to eat better, workout more and quit their favorite vice. While hitting the gym tends to be the most popular resolution, this year you may want to think about flexing your finance muscles!

In today's economy, the average American needs to rely on more than a paycheck for long term financial stability. And with the growing popularity of financial wellness programs now available, the options can be overwhelming and even confusing.

Deacon Hayes of Well Kept Wallet provides viewers tips on getting financially fit for the New Year.

From debt elimination, to proper budgeting, to retirement planning, having a financial game plan eliminates worry and creates a solid foundation for the future.

1. Pay off consumer debt using the debt snowball method.

Pay minimum payments on everything, except the smallest debt. Take your surplus (what you have left after paying all of your bills), and apply that amount towards your smallest debt. For example, if you have $100 in surplus and the minimum payment on the smallest debt is $25, now you will pay $125 per month until that debt is gone. According to a study done by the Journal of Marketing Research, this method builds confidence and motivation. Once you begin paying off some of the small debts, you will feel like you are making progress and momentum will build so that you can pay off the larger items. Aside from paying off your existing debts, it's important to stop using debt. One method for self-control is to cut up your cards or freeze them in a block of ice so they are difficult to access. 

Free Resources:

AnnualCreditReport.com to pull all three credit bureaus for free so that you know exactly what all of your debts are and the balances that are owed.

WellKeptWallet.com has a variety of resources, including a debt elimination form (see the resources page), which can be used to itemize and track your debts.

 

2. Create and stick to a budget.

The first step to eliminating debt is to have a clear snapshot of how much you have to work with every month. List all of your income and expenses on paper. Painting a clear financial picture will help you have control over your money because you can determine where it's spent each month. One method for sticking to a budget is to use an envelope system. Put cash into envelopes and only buy things in those categories with the money from these envelopes. This will help you from overspending.

Free Resources:

WellKeptWallet.com has a Starter Budget form that is designed to make budgeting quick and easy.

Mint.com is another online budgeting tool.

 

3. Make some extra cash by selling the clutter around your home.
This extra surplus of cash can be used to apply to your debt that you are working to pay off. There are a variety of common items around the house that have value to others. Examples include old cell phones, textbooks, designer clothes, video games, kids toys, and more. There are a variety of online options for selling items, such as Craigslist, BuyBackBoss, Ebay, and more. You can also look into resale clothing stores and consignment shops.

 

4. Begin now to create a financial nest egg for your retirement.
If you haven't begun, now's the time. If you're already investing, make sure you are doing it right. Be sure you are setting aside a set percentage each month. For example: If you invest $100 every paycheck for 45 years, and you are able to get an 8% return, you will have over $1.1 million. So that you will stick to this plan, automate your retirement savings by setting up an automatic transfer with your bank into your investment accounts.

Free Resources:

PersonalCapital.com will show you fees that you pay on your investments and has useful investing tools.

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Well Kept Wallet
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