CONSIDER THIS: Resolving to improve your finances

CONSIDER THIS: Resolving to improve your finances

A significant portion of Georgians – like most Americans – will resolve to better their finances in the new year.

In a survey of almost 2,000 Georgians conducted by the League of Southeastern Credit Unions & Affiliates, almost half of respondents – 46.7% – indicated they make new year’s resolutions. Almost 38% of those resolve to better their finances in some way.

These statewide statistics closely mirror national trends. A survey of 2,011 Americans conducted by Ipsos for Urban Plates in November found that 38% intended to make a new year’s resolution for 2020. Of those, more than half – 51% – noted their goals would be related to their finances.

Building savings was the most popular financial resolution among Georgians in the LSCU & Affiliates poll – 57.9% indicated that would be their goal in the new year. A large percentage (53.3%) said they’d focus on paying down debt while 33.2% said they’d plan for retirement in the new year. Others pledged to get on a budget, improve their credit score or prepare for a big life event, such as a new house, wedding or baby.

Not all Georgians prefer to make resolutions at the new year. In the LSCU survey, 63.8% said they prefer to focus on goals year-round, rather than making promises at the start of the new year. Another 25.3% said they aim for incremental improvements each year, instead.

That may be because resolutions are so difficult to keep. According to U.S. News & World Report, the failure rate among Americans for sticking to new year’s resolutions is said to be about 80%, with most commitments faltering by mid-February.

In the LSCU & Affiliates’ poll, just 2.3% of respondents said they consistently keep every resolution they make.

Despite the difficulty in consistently sticking to resolutions, the majority of Georgians polled (58.5%) were proud of their financial accomplishments over the past year, while 11.1% wished they’d had more support and 13.8% wished they’d been more accountable.

Tips to Improving your Finances in 2020

  1. Identify your financial goals – Whether you’re planning to buy a home, contribute more to your retirement savings or start an emergency fund, take the time to document your specific financial goals for the year and attach a timeline to each so you can feel accomplished with each milestone.
  2. Track your budget – Routinely track your monthly spending so you can see where your money is going and identify areas where you can cut frivolities and reallocate those funds to meet your goals.
  3. Check your credit report – Request a free credit report on com to understand  your credit standing and ensure accuracy. Consumers are entitled to one free credit report each year from each of the three credit bureaus – Equifax, Experian and TransUnion.
  4. Commit to no-spend days – Designate one “no-spend weekend” or “no-spend day” per month. Make this a time when no money leaves your hands or accounts (i.e. eat at home, skip shopping sprees and engage in free entertainment).
  5. Boost retirement contributions – Commit to boosting your 401(k) contributions. At the least, contribute enough to your workplace plan to secure your employer’s match, which is typically between 3% and 6%, if one is offered.
  6. Fast-track debt payoff goals –This could mean contributing an extra $50 per month to your debt bill or deploying the avalanche payoff strategy, which focuses on putting any extra payments toward the highest rate loan first.
  7. Automate good habits – Whether you want to save more for retirement or repay debt, automate those monthly debits with your payroll office or your credit union.
  8. Rebalance your investment portfolio – Market volatility, new money goals, financial hurdles and other unanticipated changes can impact how you should balance your investment portfolios. Keep an eye toward your long-term and short-term goals and make sure you’re viewing the market with clear eyes – not a fear-based mentality.
  9. Call your credit card company – If your credit card account is in good standing, take this time to negotiate a credit limit increase with your card issuer so you can improve your credit score, or make the case for a lower annual percentage rate, or APR.
  10. Fund your health savings account – Savers in eligible high-deductible insurance plans should consider contributing to their HSA as this is a tax-savvy way to save for future medical expenses.


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