After enjoying all of the holiday festivities with la familia, the end of the year is a good time for reflection—you can think about what went well, or not, this past year and plan ahead to make your 2018 even better.
Many of you may want to improve your financial health whether it's to pay off debt or learn how to invest. According to a study by Prudential, financial priorities for Hispanics include saving for retirement, reducing debt, building an emergency account and funding the education for their children.
There are many ways to get your financial planning started, where to begin depends on your situation and your goals. Are you trying to save for your child's college education? Have medical bills for your abuelita you are contributing to paying off? Planning your boda? Take everything going on in your life in consideration and then map out your plan in writing.
In the spirit of the adored holiday tradition of Las Posadas coming up, take a moment with your rompope or champurrado to sit down and read these 9 ways to get going on the journey to financial success:
- Budget, Budget, Budget: Make sure to look at all of your expenses and create a budget. This can be easy using mobile apps from your financial institutions or companies like Mint.com which allow you to set up a budget and track your spending.
- Cut Back: After assessing your budget, are there any areas where you can cut back on such as a gym membership or cable bill? A little savings each month goes a long way.
- Set Savings on Autopilot: It's easier to save if you don't even miss the money. Set automatic deductions from your paycheck to a 401(K) account and put money from your checking account into savings or other investment vehicle to help prepare for retirement.
- Ojo on Your Credit: Check your credit scores and credit report on a frequent basis and make your payments are on time so you don't have delinquencies or collections reported. One useful product is Experian CreditWorks, which gives you access to your FICO® Score* and Experian credit report as well as tools like a FICO® Score Simulator that help you figure out how to manage your credit.
- Get a New Job?: It is always beneficial to assess your current employment and if it is time to pursue a better opportunity with more pay and benefits. Always think of moving ¡adelante!
- Learn More: According to a Univision Communications and The Harris Poll study, 80% of Hispanics are interested in learning how financial services and products can help them achieve their life goals. Talk with financial advisors and read about personal finance in business publications and in blogs such as Savvy Financial Latina and by financial expert Julie Stav.
- Tackle Tax Strategies: As tax reform gets finalized, it is a good idea to talk with a tax professional to see what strategies you can apply to defer this year's tax liability. For example, you can put more money into your tax-deferred retirement plan by December 31 or try to postpone income to January.
- Save for Something Especial: Put away money separately for that large expense you have planned like a vacation or new car. By parceling out money specifically for this type of expense, you will be more motivated to keep saving as you see the funds grow and can look forward to reaching your goal.
- Manage Money Regularly: Don't wait until the end of the year to check your credit scores or assess your expenses. Evaluate your cash flow and debt on an ongoing basis so you can make changes throughout the year and stay on track to meet your goals.
If you tackle even just a few of these steps, you will be on your way to a fiscally great Año Nuevo. So get started today!