New Years ResolutionsIf you want to improve your financial life in 2018, here are ten tips to get you started:

1. Increase your retirement savings.

If you save through your company sponsored retirement plan, consider increasing the percentage of your income that you set aside. It’s quite likely that you won’t even notice if you start saving an extra two or three percent each pay day.

2. Save automatically.

Whether you are saving for a house, a car, an emergency fund or other goal, have the money automatically transferred into your savings account. You are likely to save more that way.

3. Contribute to a Roth Individual Retirement Account.

The Roth IRA is the best retirement account for many Americans. While you don’t get an upfront tax break, you will be rewarded later when you can make withdrawals from your nest egg without paying any taxes.

4. Don’t postpone your student loans.

When leaving college, too many students end up deferring their student loan payments. Unless your financial situation is truly drastic, delaying the pay down of your debt will only boost your ultimate bill.

5. Check your investment costs.

If your investment are being managed by a financial advisor, that fee should be clearly visible and easily calculated. There are additional expenses which are less transparent, such as commissions and mutual fund expenses (which are expressed as an expense ratio). Unless proactively managed, such expenses can quietly erode your returns. Have your advisor explain all the expenses to ensure the most cost-effective investment vehicles are being used.

6. Review your account statements.

If you don’t inspect your investment statements, you should start doing so. You might spot mistakes. And it’s important to keep up-to-date with how your underlying investments are performing.

7. Buy experiences, not things.

If you want to be happier, one highly publicized study suggests that you should stop focusing so much on acquiring more money and pay attention to how you can get the most happiness out of the money that you do have.

8. Pay your bills automatically.

There will be less of a chance of overlooking a bill if you pay them automatically online.

9. Check your credit score.

You can check your credit report through AnnualCreditReport.com, which is the only authorized website for free credit reports. You are entitled to one free copy of your credit report every year from each of the three nationwide credit reporting companies.

10. If necessary, improve your credit.

Having a higher credit score can make borrowing cheaper. Here are the major factors in a credit score:

Payment history                   35%                    

Amount owed                       30%

Length of credit history        15%

Mix of credit                          10%

New credit                            10%

 

There are no quick fixes for improving your credit score. What you can do to help is reduce the amount of your debt and pay bills automatically.

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