Since the holidays are now behind us and we’ll still be around come the new year, it’s time to turn our attention to getting our financial houses in order.
Don’t worry—I’ll start. Here’s what I’m planning to do in the new year to tidy up my money mess and set myself up for success in the years to come.
Resolution #1: I vow to start tracking once and for all.
I kind of started doing this this year. At the end of each month, I’d add up and record my variable spending each month, but there was no rhyme or reason to my record-keeping. Therefore, I was left with useless info collected to make myself feel bad about spending money.
Instead of engaging in this (admittedly masochistic) behavior, I’m choosing to use financial tracking software. As I mentioned last week, I’ve opted to use Personal Capital. I’m really excited to start the year off right by tracking my finances in their entirety with the platform.
Resolution #2: I vow to finally open my Roth IRA.
I wanted to open my Roth IRA last year, but I ran into a ridiculous tax snag that prevented me from setting it up. I learned that people who are married filing separately can open Roth accounts, sure, but they can’t contribute a dime. What kind of silly law is that?
Anyway, that’s an issue for a different day. This year, I’m filing jointly with my hubby so that I can finally open and fund my Roth. I plan to figure out my max allowable yearly contribution and divide that amount into twelve monthly payments. Then, I’ll set up an automatic payment arrangement from my savings so it’s done for me each month.
This particular resolution is very important for me to complete because I’m self-employed. When you work for yourself, you must be proactive about saving for retirement and paying your taxes—income and self-employment. There’s no boss looking over your shoulder and no payroll department to cut your checks, so it’s your job to look out for #1: yourself and your family.
Resolution #3: I vow to handle up on my student loan debt.
I’ve been making automatic payments for over a year now, but my student loan balance has yet to budge. I’m under Obama’s plan (*now closed to new applicants), so my payments are adjusted to my income and they cap out at 25 years. Unfortunately, my student loan company took it upon themselves to work around that limitation and tack a whole bunch of interest onto my principal. Now, I’m barely breaking even. Next year I plan to duke it out with my student loan company and figure up the amount I should be paying to make a dent in my balance.