As the year draws to a close, many of us are reflecting on 2018 and resolving to improve ourselves in 2019. New Year’s resolutions related to money are common, with many Americans planning to escape debt, save more money, and even eat at home more often. Follow these personal finance tips to manage your money better in 2019.
Assess the Way You Use Money
Money is one of our most precious commodities, but many of us move from year to year without really thinking about how we’re using it. Start the new year by taking stock of your financial situation. Did your financial situation improve in 2018? How are you using your windfall? Often we simply absorb bonuses and raises in our household budgets. Increasing your retirement plan contributions, repaying debts, or growing an emergency fund are better uses for this extra money.
Expenditure is another area we don’t analyze enough. Look through your financial statements and identify the regular payments. Are all those expenses necessary? You might spot subscriptions you rarely use and wouldn’t miss. Also consider downgrading some services like your internet subscription or streaming plans if you’re not using all the features. You might receive discounts by bundling some services like insurance policies. Use the money you save to achieve your financial goals.
Resolve IRS Debts
While clearing all debt matters, resolving your IRS debt is even more important in 2019. On April 1 last year, the IRS increased its interest rates in line with Federal Reserve interest rate hikes. The rate compounds every day and is assessed every quarter. The Motley Fool calculated that an individual tax debt of $10,000 would accrue interest of $1.37 every day until its paid. After one year, that would add $500.05 to the debt. Then there are additional penalties to consider.
Of course, repaying your IRS debt as soon as you can is the best way to avoid the sting of those interest rate hikes. Even a partial payment can help you minimize the impact. You could also apply for an extension if you expect to have the money before long, or apply for an installment agreement. You might also qualify for an Offer in Compromise. If you’re struggling with tax debt, seeking professional help can reduce the pain of those IRS changes.
Review Your Credit Score
You’re entitled to a free copy of your credit report every 12 months from Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian. Despite all Americans qualifying for this complimentary service, 30% of us don’t know our credit scores. Don’t bury your head in the sand in 2019. Obtaining your free credit score reports is as easy as visiting the Annual Credit Report website or calling 1-877-322-8228. Knowledge is power.
Once you know your credit score, you can take steps to boost it, like direct debiting bills to avoid late payments and eliminating credit card debt. You might even spot errors harming your score.
When you take control of your personal finances, it feels like so many facets of your life fall into place. Start 2019 off right by applying these money-savvy solutions.