Below is a checklist of items commonly recommended by financial planners.
If you've never created a budget before, don't worry, it doesn't have to be complicated. At its simplest, a budget is simply a written list of your monthly income and expenses.
Using detailed debit or credit card statements for your reference, expenses should be categorized either as things you need to pay for — housing, transportation, groceries — or as discretionary, non-essential expenses, such as entertainment or meals at restaurants.
Ideally, your monthly income will exceed your monthly expenses, with room left over for savings or investments (many people use a 50/30/20 budget, which ensures 20% of your money is allocated to your financial goals). If not, you may want to cut back on your discretionary expenses until your budget is balanced.
It always seems to me that I have not taken advantage of or even forgotten about the subscriptions of apps and streaming services that accumulate by the end of the year. In this case, I cancel these services and use the money elsewhere in my budget.
By doing this last year, I saved just over $200 a month on canceled subscriptions alone.
To find out if your retirement contributions are on track, start by calculating the balances of all your existing savings and investment accounts. Then, enter those numbers into CNBC Make It's retirement calculator, which tells you how much money you'll need to save each month to meet your retirement goals.
If you're falling behind on your goals, you may need to increase your contributions or postpone retirement until a later age.
And if you're behind on retirement savings and don't have a lot of extra cash, you can still increase your contributions later to make up some of the difference. This is especially true for younger earners because they tend to earn less money early in their careers.
However, the sooner you put the money into an investment account like a 401(k) or index fund, the better — even if it's only $50 each month. This is because these investments will grow with compound interest over time.
By making contributions early, your money will have more time to grow.
To cover unexpected costs, financial planners typically recommend an emergency fund worth three to six months of your expenses, although setting $1,000 aside is also a worthwhile goal. To make sure you're prepared for the unexpected in 2024, start making monthly contributions to build your emergency fund, especially if you don't already have one.
The purpose of an emergency fund is to avoid using your credit card for unexpected expenses, as they come with high interest rates that currently average 20.74%. According to Bankrate.
If you already have credit card debt that is larger than your emergency savings, many financial planners recommend paying off the debt first.
Consider storing your emergency funds in a high-interest savings account. This way, the balance will grow with interest and you will be able to make quick withdrawals when necessary.
By having a beefed-up emergency fund, you should be able to cover unexpected costs in 2024, whether that's vehicle repairs or medical debt.
It's important to look at your credit reports at least once a year, as the data in these reports affects your credit score. Your credit score determines how much money you'll spend on interest on loans, credit cards, and auto financing: the higher the score, the less you pay in interest.
There are many types of credit scores, but the ones most commonly used are derived from credit reports issued by one of the three major credit bureaus: Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian. Credit reports include detailed information such as your loan repayment history, credit inquiries, and whether you have a debt that has been sent to a collection agency.
Unfortunately, credit reports often contain errors that can lower your credit score, whether that's duplicate loan account entries or on-time payments that are misclassified as late. Another problem is that identity theft is common, with scammers often using stolen personal information to make fraudulent loans.
For this reason, you'll need to check your credit history report with each credit bureau at least once a year. To do this, go to Annual accreditation report And select “Request your free credit reports.” You can choose to download the reports or have them mailed to you.
Each report contains more information about how to dispute the error.
Some cybersecurity experts recommend changing your password every few months, while others say use a strong password You don't need to change it often. It is most commonly recommended to use an encrypted password manager.
I just make sure I change the passwords for my financial accounts at least once a year. I also periodically use the “Password Checkup” function in Google's password manager to identify any compromised passwords and then change them as necessary.
Don't Miss: Want to be smarter and more successful in your money, your work, and your life? Subscribe to our new newsletter!
Gets Warren Buffett's Free Guide to Investing on CNBCwhich summarizes the billionaire's best advice for everyday investors, the do's and don'ts, and three key investing principles into a clear, simple guide.
“Typical beer advocate. Future teen idol. Unapologetic tv practitioner. Music trailblazer.”