If you're trying to pay off debt, save or invest money, or just want to stop the cycle of living paycheck to paycheck, make 2022 the year you finally do it!
We got some advice from three certified financial planners for their top tips to get you going. Nicole Morong is with Peterkin Financial, Richard Carr is with Carr Financial Group and Marcos Lopez is with The Bulfinch Group.
"People try to create a budget, which I've never seen it work, and it creates a lot of stress," said Lopez. "So instead, put everything in one account and look at that at the end of the month, and you have a good understanding of whether you're saving money or not."
He says to save as much as you can and not to think about having to save a set percentage of your income.
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"See where you can save on the essentials, on the things you can't change," said Morong. "It takes a little bit of effort, but calling Comcast or Verizon, and saying, 'Hey, my bill is a little bit higher than I want it to be, is there any way that I can meet my needs but save a little bit of money each month?'"
She says saving a little bit here and there may not seem like a lot, but it adds up.
"Do a couple of those, and all of a sudden, then, well, $100 a month found is $1,200 a year, $200 a month found is $2,400 a year," said Morong.
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"If you are struggling with your income and the current level of expenses, think about the changes that will really have an impact," said Carr. "What is taking the bulk of your expense? Oh, it's your auto insurance, well, you live in a city, what if you didn't live in a city? Your rent would go down, your auto insurance would go down, your taxes would go down."
Carr says the biggest expense we all have and most people don't even consider is taxes. He advises people to look for ways to reduce your current tax bill through various strategies that may be available to you.
"It's important to create a plan," said Lopez. "You have your income, you have your expenses and you know how much money you can dedicate to pay off your debt."
"Credit card debt is evil," said Carr. "The best strategy for paying it down is fast and furious, even if it means dramatically impacting your lifestyle in the short term."
He recommends devoting every possible dollar that you have to getting yourself our of credit card debt.
If you have paid down your debt and you're able to free up some money, even a small amount of money, Morong suggests investing it.
"Starting small and investing ongoing is one of the best ways to keep pace with inflation and build your net worth and feel like you're making financial progress not just from your own hard work, but really having your money work harder for you," she said.
"After the two years that we've had where the stock market went up in a way nobody expected, rebalance your portfolio, make sure that it still represents the risk level that you're comfortable with," added Carr.
"Don't make it harder than it needs to be," said Lopez. "Make it simple and stick to your plan and don't let anything around you affect what you are trying to do."
Be patient and don't get overwhelmed. Make some small changes now and build on them, or set a small financial goal to start.