6 money moves to make 2018 your best financial year yet

New year, new financial you?

It’s not quite as easy as it sounds.

From debt, to bills to the jump-off of tax season, trying to start the new year off on a clean slate is not only difficult, but practically impossible.

Luckily, there are tangible, simple strategies you can employ right now to get you on track to making 2018 your most fiscally responsible year yet.

We spoke with consumer finance expert and Marcus by Goldman Sachs ambassador Andrea Woroch to find out her top tips for making that happen.

Here are the six money moves to start making right now to help get your finances in order:

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6 tips for a financially successful 2018
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6 tips for a financially successful 2018

Determine Debt Repayment Strategies 

If you’re carrying credit card debt across multiple accounts, not only can it  become increasingly hard to manage, but you’re actually spending money on interest. Instead, look at saving money on interest by exploring debt consolidation options such as a personal loan from Marcus by Goldman Sachs, an online lender which offers fixed-rate, no fee personal loans to consumers with good credit (660+). For instance, for those consumers with good credit carrying $10,000 in credit card debt, when compared to a high interest credit card, you could potentially save just under $1,500 by consolidating with a 48-month loan. Consumers should check out the calculator at Marcus.com, tolearn more. Plus, a single payment at the same time every month is easier to manage vs. dealing with multiple accounts that are due at different times. Clearing up this credit card debt in advance of the holidays will get you into the spirit of saving and help avoid digging yourself deeper in debt.

Review FSA / HAS balances

If you contribute to a flexible spending account (FSA) to pay for copayments, deductibles, some drugs, and other health care costs,  review your balance before year end as any unused funds could be lost when 2017 comes to a close. Check with HR department to confirm when the deadline is for you to access these funds as employers can offer a grace period through March 15, 2018 or allow you to roll over a percentage. If your employer doesn’t provide a grace period or allow a roll over, look for ways to draw down the account. Make doctor appointments such as wellness exams, vision exams, dental checkups, teeth whitening and buy allowable medical items before year end so you don’t lose the money! When it comes to a health savings account (HSA), year-end isn’t as sensitive. You won’t lose the money contributed to this account. It will always be available to you and will roll over from year to year. However, if you find that you have more money in the account than you need, you may consider making lower contributions as your money could be going toward other financial goals like retirement savings.

Lower taxable income via charitable donations

Spend some time before the end of the year to look for ways to reduce your taxable income to save on taxes come filing deadline in April 17, 2018. Consider boosting or maxing out retirement contributions and enjoy doing something good by giving to a charity. The holidays are the perfect time to find plenty of opportunities to donate!

Automate savings and rebalance your budget

You can’t set up a realistic budget if you have no idea how much you spend each month. Identify your budget baseline by tracking spending for a few months so you know how much goes toward needs and wants. Through this process, you will be able to identify areas where you typically overspend. Begin by making small changes that are easier to stick to instead of trying to commit to a complete overhaul which could lead to budgeting burn out. You should also consider paying yourself first and automating your savings so you stay on track to meet your goals. Keep in mind, what’s out of site is out of mind and you’ll learn to live on less when those savings are automatically deposited into a separate account. 

Adjust Withholdings

If you think you’re withholding too much or too little on your W2, you have time to make adjustments. Check out the IRS website to find a withholding calculator for help determining how much to withhold or consult with a tax accountant now.

Set Financial Goals Now

Don’t wait until the new year to identify areas of improvement and set financial goals. The sooner you establish your various financial goals, the sooner you can begin making steps toward reaching them and paving the way toward a healthier financial future. Determine a specific goal like spending less over the holidays or paying off your car loan. You must be specific in what your goal is, including a date by which you want to reach this financial milestone. Identify concrete steps you need to make to get to those goals and outline a plan. 

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