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Take Control of Your Money in 2019: A 12-Month Guide

Happy New Year! It's that time of year where we are all about making plans and changes in our lives. Is one of your goals to get your financial life in order this year? If so, one of the best ways to achieve a goal is to have a realistic plan that can be followed. if you are reading this then you are in luck! We’ve got you covered with our ultimate month-to-month guide to help you finally take control of your finances, one step at a time.


JANUARY: Assess where you are and set a goal.

Before you can start making big financial moves, it’s important to see where you actually are. This will also help you to know what goals to set. Start by accessing how much income you bring in, what your expenses are, and any debt you have. Look at ALL accounts where have you a financial obligation. From there, set a few goals like increasing income, tackling debt, saving more money, etc. It may seem overwhelming, but it’s a crucial step to getting everything in order for the year.

FEBRUARY: Make a budget.

You now know how much money is coming in, and how much needs to go out. This is the perfect time to create a budget. What does that look like? A proper budget means that you have given every dollar of income a place to go. Whether you allocate money towards your necessities, debt, or fun, all incomes needs to be allocated. This is what we call a zero based budget. In order to make a budget you can follow through on, make it easy on yourself: try one of these budgeting forms as a guide.

MARCH: Build your emergency fund.

Over half of the American population do not have enough money to cover a $500 emergency expense, like a medical or car repair bill. That is scary! Give yourself some peace of mind by building a small emergency fund (at least one month of expenses). Work it into your budget - you can even automate the process by having a small amount of your check going into your savings account each month.

APRIL: Tackle debt.

Since you did an assessment in January, you should know how much you have in debt. This is a great time to start strategizing on how to address those student loans, credit card bills, mortgage, etc. Also, it’s important to note that while you’re working on paying off these debts, try to avoid accumulating new debt.

MAY: Improve your credit score.

Did you know that your credit can not only determine what rates you get on your mortgage and car insurance, but it can also determine if you’ll be accepted for a job? Now is the time to work on getting your credit to where it needs to be, especially now that the new FICO scoring system is here. Review your credit reports for accuracy and dispute any incorrect information. It’s also a good time to review your credit cards to see if it’s time to switch to a better deal (like a card with lower interest or rewards) or cut them up!

JUNE: Handle your retirement accounts.

Retirement may seem like a ways off, but working on it now sets you up for success later. Make sure you’re prepared by learning about your 401(k) or IRA. If you can, max out these accounts. Need some help in learning more about 401(k)? Use this cheat sheet to get more understanding, and then talk to your HR or financial manager.

JULY: Do an audit on your expenses.

You made it through the first half of the year! How have you done so far? Use this month to scrutinize your spending habits. Go through your past budgets and print out bills and statements from the last six months to see where your money is going and if you need to readjust by eliminating some expenses or finding a better deals.

AUGUST: Increase your income.

You’re doing good with handling your expenses, but you’ll really take your finances to the next level if you can boost your income! More money coming in, means hitting your financial goals quicker. Use this month to explore new ways you can generate more income whether that’s by finding a new job or getting a side-hustle.

SEPTEMBER: Work on investing.

A misconception is that you need to be wealthy to invest. Not true. About $500 is a good starting point. Research the different options available, and then get with your financial planner for advice more suitable to your specific needs.

OCTOBER: Think about insurance.

With most companies having open enrollment around this time, now is a great time to assess if there needs to be a change in your insurance policies. The key is to evaluate your needs and to make sure you’re a) not paying more than you must, and b) you’re utilizing all of your insurance’s perks and benefits (for example, some insurance plans include free well-visits and some even include free gym membership!), and c) you have no gaps in your insurance policies (are you properly covered in all areas of insurance).

NOVEMBER: Scrutinize fees.

Many people throw away hundreds of dollars a year on unnecessary fees such as bank, credit and ATM fees. You can tackle this by scanning your bank statements to see if there are any fees you can refute or avoid in the future, and by automating your payments so that you avoid late and overdraft fees.

DECEMBER: Review and plan.

You did it! You’ve set a budget, stashed away money, reduced your spending, etc. You should be pretty darn proud of yourself! Take this time to celebrate all of your hard work, and then review, dream and plan for next year.


Need help with any of the above steps? We can help you with that! Click here to see what we can do for you and to book a consultation.

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