Use the extra motivation that accompanies this time of year to make positive changes for your financial future by taking these four easy steps now:
1. INCREASE YOUR 401(K) CONTRIBUTION Auto enroll in your employer’s retirement plan if you haven’t already done so. If you have, challenge yourself to increase your contribution by 5 percent this year. The change in your take-home pay will be nominal, the future savings great.
2. INCREASE INCOME Challenge yourself to increase income either through a raise, selling off items you could do without, working some overtime, or creating part-time income from another job or hobby. Find something you enjoy and consider a way to earn extra income from doing it.
3. DECREASE EXPENSES Pull the budget out and start digging. Challenge yourself to decrease those expenses by 5 percent; this will compensate for the additional 401(k) contribution. Try couponing, negotiating with your cable company for a lower rate, eating out less often, or carpooling.
4. LEARN Go to the library and grab some books on financial literacy. Read Web sites such as Yahoo Finance (www.yahoo.com/finance) or www.bloomberg.com. Attend free seminars offered in your area by professional financial planners or tax advisors.