UNITED STATES—It is a New Year, which means for many Americans we are starting to consider resolutions to tackle. Of course we hear the big one every year, losing weight, exercising or eating healthier, but one that should be a major focus is finances. Yes, you heard me correctly: finances. The holidays are far behind us and now we are starting to get those credit card statements and looking at our bank statements.
For some people it might be a stunner when you realize how much money you spent using your credit cards. However, here is where things become important; you have to write out all of your expenses. You need to know what debt you have in order to develop a plan to tackle that debt. Consider tackling your credit cards with the highest interest rates first. Yes, I have heard people make the argument to tackle those cards that have lower balances first so that you can pay them off in a timely fashion.
That is a feasible solution, but you do have to remember that tackling those high interest rate cards will help you save money on all that interest you have been paying over the year or in the past few months. I personally would tackle the high-interest cards first, but if you choose to go after those smaller debt cards first that’s a choice you have. Now let’s be clear it’s NOT just about paying off those cards, you have to decide how much your budget allows you to pay on each of your credit cards.
Of course 2020 left many people only being able to pay the minimum due on many of their credit cards, which only resulted in the debt seeing very little if any at all being paid off. With that said, you always want to attempt to double up your payment if possible because that helps knock down the interest on those cards. So think of debt in this way, once you pay off credit cards, the goal is to NOT use those cards and take the money that you would use to pay off a particular bill, to pay off other bills.
The thing about managing finances is that it can seem like an uphill battle, but once you start to see small glimmers of hope (seeing your interest on monthly payments drop) and more money in your pocket, it’s a habit that you will continue to stick with. On top of that, look at any free or unexpected money you get as an opportunity to save or to pay off more debt. That’s what most Americans should be doing with that stimulus check if they’re getting one. The same sentiment can be echoed for any tax refund you might be expecting in the coming weeks. We’ll talk about that more in another column people. With all finances you have to know what you have coming in and what you have going out.
It gives you a snap shot of not only where your money is going, but what you might have left over after everything has been paid off. If you see yourself barely having anything to put away, it might be a sign that you need to seek employment opportunities that give you a bigger boost in your paycheck. It is NOT always easy, but sometimes you have to seriously look at changes that can be made to help you see the results that you want to see when it comes to your finances.
Of course, no one wants to hear the word finance, but it is part of our life. You will have bills until the day that you die. You have to best manage your finances that best suits your needs. Understand that what works for one person will NOT always work for everyone. Everyone has different approaches when it comes to tackling finances, just know you have to have a plan.