The best New Years resolutions are the ones that you can do once, and have them keep on working for you. It’s like the old advertising slogan– “Set it and forget it!”. Long after the gym membership card has been lost in the depths of your wallet, the smoking cessation patches have run their course, and the French course lies neglected, a few healthy financial steps will keep improving your life.
Increase your 401k contribution by 1%
Most Americans set up their 401k when hired, and then never touch it again. Most Americans also don’t even set their 401k to the maximum that their employer will match. Assuming average income and employer matching, that not-even-noticeable 1% bump means an extra $630.91 to your net worth by years’ end.
Comparison Shop for All Subscription Services
Take another look at all services that you pay for monthly, such as cell phone bills, cable television, and internet. It’s a good idea to do this annually, and what better time than New Years? Companies aren’t going to tell you when their rates drop if you have the old, more expensive plan. I just got done with my annual comparison shopping, having dropped my cell phone bill by $45/month. That’s pretty comparable to what I managed to save last January, when I discovered my ISP’s new plan. 2013 will see an extra $540 in my pocket from a couple little phone calls.
Change your direct deposit
Redo your direct deposit forms so that at least some of your money goes straight into savings. If necessary, get a savings account at another financial institution to make the money harder to spend. Many big banks charge a monthly fee for savings accounts below a minimum deposit amount. If your bank doesn’t offer you a free account, check out your local credit unions. Community credit unions don’t require being part of an employer group, and most have a free savings option. Heck, go wild and crazy and get a second savings account. Name it “Hawaii”, or maybe even “Ferrari”. Even if you only have $5 or $10 going into the savings account, you’ll be doing better than most people in a very short time. Seriously. Over 20% of Americans have less than $100 in their emergency fund. At $10 a paycheck, you can can beat that by June.