Tuesday, January 3, 2012

5 Smart Things To Do In January

An orange check mark.Image via WikipediaIt's the beginning of the new year and now is the time to start your list of productive things that you and I should be accomplishing now. This month will be a busy one because the work we get done this month will set the pace for the rest of the year. You need to check over your finances to see if you are doing all you can to make this year a great one.

On the to-do list:

Automate your Finances.
Is your pay check direct deposited in the bank? Why waste time driving to the bank to just deposit your check every one or two weeks. Save time and money by setting up direct deposit.

Set up automated transfers to savings to pay yourself first. The next smart step, after direct deposit, is to get funds into savings right away so they can begin earning dividends from the get-go.

Automate your mortgage payment. Even with the typical grace period that most mortgage lenders allow, it’s always a good move to take care of that big monthly payment. Again, you’ll never have to worry about making the payment on time.

Automate minimum credit card payment or payments. The penalty for a late credit card payment is not pretty. Set up an automated payment to cover at least the minimum due on all your credit cards; you always can pay additional amounts so you retire those debts as soon as you can. Set payments a few days before the due dates to protect your credit score.

Arrange to have any overdrafts automatically covered from your savings account. Even if an overdraft is rare in your household, it can happen to the best money managers. Make sure you can cover any inadvertent overdraft with a direct transfer from your savings account and there’s another worry you’ll never have again.

Get organized.
If you're like most people, you are not organized. You have stacks of papers and mail you have been saving to look at later, but never get to. Look in your closets and try to find something to throw out. We all have things in closets that we will never use again. Why not throw away the junk and donate some of the better things to Goodwill.

Check out the garage, a source of larger clutter. Through away the junk and make room for your car. If you look at it like you are moving to a smaller home, you can see what is not necessary to keep.

Spending and savings goals.
Dig out the budget and see if there are ways to fine tune it more. See if you can squeeze a little more savings from your budget by cutting expenses. The extra money can be used to pay off debt, save, or go on vacation.

When saving for retirement, college, or other major life events it's a good idea to see if you are still on track. Checking where you are and making mid-course changes will keep you going towards your goals.

Reevaluate your debts.
If you are paying on a mortgage, student loans, or credit cards it is time to see if you can possibly accelerate the process. After making monthly payments to debt you get so automated you forget to see the progress your making. You should check to see if you are making the correct payments. You could be paying to much to one debt and to little to another. You should see if it is possible to increase the amount of the monthly payment so you can be finished sooner.

Plan ahead for future needs.
This should already be a part of your budget. The problems and expenses that will come up during the year makes it unnecessary to save for. Those things are vacations, next Christmas, new cars, educational needs for the children, and large purchases like TV's and appliances.

This list only scratches the surface of things to do this month. Add to it some of the things you will be doing.

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