A Better You: Financially Fit New Year

January 10, 2008 5:52:11 AM PST
Get financially fit for the new year! Money expert Jason Tyler with Ariel Capital Management has tips on reducing debt and making money in 2008.
  • Check your credit report
  • This should be done annually. All the financial planning in the world can't compensate for what can happen if you suffer identity theft or if there is a significant error on your credit report. A great way to avoid identity theft is to pay bills automatically. Believe it or not, this is much safer then sending checks through the mail. It is easy to check your credit report, not to mention, free.

  • Attack Credit Card Debt
  • Credit card interest rates are deadly. This should be a top financial priority. Be sure to set a realistic monthly goal that you will be able to abide by. Set up automatic payments to help keep you disciplined. Don't just tell yourself you will get out of debt this year. Be specific in your goal. "I will pay X amount of dollars toward my balance every month". Also, call your credit card company and try to negotiate a lower interest rate.

    • High interests rates are a killer
    • Set realistic, monthly goals
    • Things are not a bargain if you are adding to your credit card balance.

  • Take advantage of your 401K program
  • If you are not already investing in your company's 401K program, definitely start right away. The hardest step in preparing for retirement is completing the paperwork and investing that first dollar. After this first step, it can be very fun to watch your money grow and extraordinarily rewarding come retirement age. Take advantage of your employer's matching program - this is free money. As you move along in your career, always spilt your yearly raises between your current lifestyle and your retirement.

    • Company Match is free money
    • First dollar is the hardest but most important
    • Always split your raises between your current lifestyle and your retirement

  • Prepare to weather the storms
  • The first of the year is the best time to get the boring stuff out of the way.

    • - Too many of us avoid reviewing insurance policies. Again this is something that should be done annually. You may find that many of your policies are inadequate and no longer apply to you. Before renewing your insurance policies, get quotes from several companies and see which offers the best rate for your needs. Inquire into multiple policy discounts - car and home for example.
    • - Make sure your money ends up in the right place. A will is one way to accomplish this, but also check beneficiaries in your insurance policies. Be sure to talk with a qualified attorney and tax pro to help ensure that your estate plan is the best it can be.
      • Review/update insurance policies
      • Look into multiple policy discounts
      • Protect your assets - Update your will