Can you believe that there are only 34 days until we say goodbye to 2014 and welcome in 2015? Where did the time go. It feels like just yesterday I was waiting for summer to get here to enjoy with the family and spend as much time outside as possible. And, now today, I was finding myself wishing winter (which really hasn't started yet here in New England) would hurry up and get over, as I was done with the cold and snow outside. But, with the ending of a year and a welcoming of a new year, people begin to think of one thing -- tax time.
Are you one of those people likes to get in a double payment on your mortgage before the end of the year, an extra 401K payment, or even donate your summer and fall clothing in hopes to get a tax deductible letter to use when claiming charitable donations? Like they say, "Every little bit helps" and when people start thinking about their finances and if they will be paying in 2015 for taxes, anxieties can get the best of you, and you can find yourself dreading the new year and what lies ahead. But, there are ways to better financial position yourself as your say goodbye to 2014 and "Hello" to 2015.
First, do you have an emergency fund? Most people know that this is important to have, but very few actual have the suggested 6 months of your salary saved, in case you experience a lay off, financial difficulties, etc. Don't get frustrated if you find yourself struggling to meet the suggested 6 months savings fund. Again, "every little bit helps." Why not start by putting away an extra $50-$100 per weekly or bi-weekly payment? As the months go by, this weekly/monthly deduction will add up and eventually you will have a nice nest egg to fall back on in case the need ever arises.
You may laugh and think you are hearing your parents saying this, but a budget is key in living a financially responsible life for both you and your family. Sit down with your significant other and pool all the monthly bills and expenses. Tally up everything and then start making a list of monthly expenses that need to be paid for like utilities, car payments, insurance, daycare, etc. Then, see how many other expenses you are paying out that are for personal enjoyment, like shopping, dining out, etc. Once you have this second column set up, really look at ways you can reduce paying out to this column, while not having to give up on these perks. Why not consider dining out one night a week when they offer specials like kids eat free with a paying adult, or if a local pizza shop offers carryout at a savings compared to having it delivered. If you like going to the movies, how about doing a fun at-home movie night with friends and family, instead of paying the crazy prices for a 2-3 hr. movie and snacks, which could run you around $50-$60 for a family of 4 easily. If you find that you like to dine out due to limited time during the week to cook or your inexperience in the kitchen? Why not considering battering for meals by offering up a service or skill you have, or start a supper club where you exchange meals with other busy families each week or month. Get creative in the ways you cut down on "extras" spending while still not giving up on the fun and enjoyment you get with them.
Paying bills on time is also a must, as you don't want to incur late fee charges or penalties against your account, which over time could ruin your credit. Create a calendar each month and note when a bill is due. I find that it is easier to remember, saves a stamp is just convenient to set up online bill paying with many of the utilities and credit card companies, and simply have time take out money from your checking account each month to pay a bill. You don't have to wonder if you payed a bill, or rush to get a check out in time for it to be received before the deadline.
There are so many other ways to get yourself on track for a financially successful new year. But, the first thing you need to do is look at your spending habits and find areas that need improving -- IE. cutting down and finally paying off credit card debt once and for all instead of paying the minimum or continually charging and seeing the balance going up, curbing careless spending by getting creative in ways to provide family entertainment through family game night, movie nights with make your pizza and/or ice cream, or simply getting family and friends together for potluck or Sunday dinners. Once you realize a budget and make a commitment to stick to it, you will find yourself stressing less at the end of the year and when tax time rolls around, and find yourself enjoying 2015 knowing that you are in a better financial state as a result of budgeting, saving and being savvy when it comes to spending your money.
Do you have other money saving tips or steps you take to get ready for a more financially stable new year? If so, I would love to hear about them. Please share them in the comments section below.
Capital One is also here to help you find a more financially successful new year, with their Capital One 360's Black Friday Sale. Yes, even Capital One offers Black Friday sales. :-)
So, what are you waiting for? Head on over and check out the Capital One 360's Black Friday Sale, as you start to think about financial peace of mind during the holidays and into the new year, by taking advantage of Capital One 360's deals on banking, brokerage and mortgage products. And, in addition to taking advantage of deals on banking, brokerage and mortgage products yourself, you can give your friends and family the gift of financial peace of mind by encouraging them to take advantage of the deals and refer them to the sale. If they sign up, you may be eligible for a $40 referral bonus.
Here are just some of the deals you will find when visiting the Capital One 360's Black Friday Sale, which kicks of today (Nov. 28th) at 12:01AM ET and runs through Dec. 1st, 11:59PM ET:
I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.