The start of a new year is a great time to take stock of where you stand financially, look at what’s coming up in the year ahead, and make some moves to reach your financial goals. So, in 2022, ditch the new year resolutions and set your sights on making some meaningful changes when it comes to your money.

Here are 22 ways you can improve your finances in the coming year.

  1. Define Your Money Goals – What are you looking to do in 2022 with your money? Pay off debt? Buy a home? Buy a new car? Go on a vacation? Your goals will help you set priorities and create plans for saving, spending and where you put your focus.
  2. Review Your Budget and Make Needed Adjustments – See what you spent money on last year. Look at your monthly checking and credit card statements to determine where your money went in key categories – groceries, eating out, rent, transportation, utilities, gifts, etc. -- and see where you can adjust in the new year.
  3. Create a Budget if You Don’t Have One – A budget can help you plan for regular expenses, manage debt, and prepare for emergencies. Town & Country offers a downloadable budget worksheet and a digital budget tool called Money Management to help you get started. Click here to learn more.
  4. Plan for Your Next Major Life Event – Big life events like marriage, having a child or moving can be expensive. Sit down with your partner to weigh all the costs associated with these important events and develop a plan to incorporate them into your budget.
  5. Plan for Important Big-Ticket Items – If this is the year for a new roof on the house, furnace replacement or braces for your middle schooler, plan ahead. Get a cost estimate then put the money aside or increase your regular savings and treat that money as if it spent.
  6. Get Your Spending Under Control –Start by looking at where your money goes by tracking your spending for a few weeks or month. Knowing what you are spending money on, being aware of spending triggers, and shopping with a goal in mind are ways to make sure you have money for the things that really matter.
  7. Look to Pay Off Debt -- How you repay debt may depend on the type of debt you have. Consider paying off high-interest credit card debt first because it is most expensive. Or make small payments on a range of debts to chip away at the total amount owed. Either way, a budget can help manage debt repayment.
  8. Get a Grip on Credit Card Debt – Too much credit card debt can get in the way of reaching other financial goals. Make paying off credit card debt a priority. Figure out what you owe, stop using your cards for everyday shopping, pay more than the minimum balance, and reduce unnecessary spending. Consider a balance transfer to a lower interest rate card to speed up the repayment process.
  9. Find More Money in Your Budget – Earn extra income with a new higher paying job or side hustle. Look at subscriptions and memberships and get rid of those you are not using, sell things you don’t need, and cut back on spending to free up money to save more or paying down debt.
  10. Protect Your Savings from Inflation – If rising prices for gas, food, and other essentials due to inflation is beginning to eat into your savings, there are a few things you can do to stay on track. Focus on spending less than you earn, delay purchases of items significantly affected by rising inflation, keep you goals in mind, and stick to a budget.
  11. Review your Credit Score – If your credit score is not where you want it to be, a few simple steps can make a difference. Focus on paying your bills on time. In fact, it's the most important factor that determines your credit score. Town & Country offers a free tool for online banking users called Credit Score by SavvyMoney, which can help you monitor and manage your credit.
  12. Switch to a Credit Card That Works for You – Take a close look at your credit cards and see if you have the best one in your wallet. Be sure to read the fine print. Compare introductory rates, interest rates, reward programs, annual fees, balance transfer fees and cash back fees. Town & Country offers great Visa credit cards options with low rates and fees. Click here to learn more.
  13. Set Up Automatic Bill Payments -- The best way to avoid missing a monthly loan or credit card payment is to put your bills on autopay. Make sure you have enough money in your checking account to cover each bill to avoid an overdraft.
  14. Automate your Savings – The easiest way to become a regular saver is to “set it and forget it”. Simply set up an automatic transfer from your checking account into your various savings and investment accounts. It is an effortless way to save and will help you reach your savings goals.
  15. Make Emergency Savings a Priority -- This money can cushion the blow of an unexpected job change, unplanned home or car repair, trip to the vet or cover any other unforeseen expense. Look to have three to six months of expenses in an easily accessible account. Consider boosting your emergency fund savings in the new year. If you don’t yet have an emergency fund, now is a great time to set one up.
  16. Review Your Retirement Savings – Check to see how you are doing with hitting your retirement goals. Small increases in retirement savings can lead to significant results over time thanks to compound interest. The start of a new year is a good time to bump up your retirement savings contribution by 1%.
  17. If you Have Children, Save for Their Education – If you already saving for your child’s education in a 529 account, review the account to see if it is on track. If you have not yet set up a 529 account for your child’s education, consider starting one now. A 529 plan is an investment account that offers tax benefits when used to pay for qualified education expenses for your child. To learn more visit FAME Maine.
  18. Calculate Your Net Worth – Know where you stand financially by reviewing your net worth. Net worth is simply a calculation of all your assets – what you own -- minus your liabilities – what you owe. The goal is to see an upward trend over time. Town & Country’s free online Money Management tool will automatically calculate your net worth. Click here to learn more.
  19. Review Your Insurance Coverage – As your life changes, so, too, will your insurance needs. Take the time to review your policies and coverage requirements including auto, homeowner, life, disability, and health insurance. Do you have enough? Do you have too much? Plus, you could save some money if you shop around for the best rates.
  20. Revisit your Financial Plan with Your Advisor–Many people are reassessing their retirement timelines, where and how they live and other future goals as a result of the pandemic. Start of a new year is a great time to reexamine your goals, think about your priorities in life, and if you are prepared to make them happen. If you do not have a financial advisor, contact the National Association of Personal Financial Advisorsto find a qualified professional near you.
  21. Review Your Will and Estate Documents – Be sure to update these documents if you have had any major changes with relationship, assets, residence, or tax laws. Also, be sure to review your beneficiaries to make sure they are current. If you don’t have a will yet, you may want to make it a goal in the new year. It is an important document that will ensure you and your finances are taken care of if anything should happen.
  22. Talk to Your Partner About Money – Money can be a major cause of friction in relationships but getting on the same page with your partner about money is important. To do this, you need to have clear, open communications about your individual and joint goals, dreams, and values . . . especially when it comes to your finances. Start with a few simple topics and build on it from there. The key thing is to make conversations about money a regular part of your relationship.
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