(StatePoint)Achieving your financial goals can sound like a daunting New Year’s resolution if you aren’t organized when it comes to your money. But by planning ahead, you can more easily improve your financial situation.
If you’re new to money management -- don’t stress -- new tools are making it simple to stay on top of your finances, allowing you to pay down debt and save for the future.
Here are some foolproof ways to achieve your financial goals this year:
Short and Long-Term Goals
Whether you dream of owning the latest iPhone, a home, or you’re planning for retirement, identifying your goals is the first step to making them happen. Without goals, it’s easy to spend too much money on the here and now without thinking about the future. Figure out what portion of each paycheck you’re willing to divert to a goal-designated savings account. This will give you a realistic idea of how long your goals will take to achieve.
Talk to your employer’s Human Resources department about how to set up a 401(k) or 403(b). Not only are your contributions to your account tax-free, but many employers will even match your contribution, which is an offer that should be impossible to refuse.
Tracking your finances can help you make smart financial decisions that won’t put you in debt. But before you clear off your desk and buy file folders, consider this: electronic money management can save you the mountain of paperwork. Free online resources can help you manage all your financial accounts in one place. For example, personal finance website Mint.com, allows you to categorize your spending, create budgets and savings goals, and set up bill reminders and alerts. Available for Android and iPhone phones and tablets, you can manage your spending on the go and in real time.
Or try Quicken 2013 from Intuit, which gives you access to checking, savings and credit card account information, automatically syncing your information across your mobile devices so you can keep your accounts up-to-date by entering transactions as they are made. The bill reminders tool, budgeting features and debt reduction tool make it easier to eliminate debt in the New Year and plan for the future. You can learn more by visiting www.quicken.intuit.com.
Not all your goals will be achievable with assets you have today. Luckily, there are new, lower-cost ways to pay off debt. For example, borrowers using Lending Club can qualify instantly with a simple online application. Unlike a traditional bank loan, Lending Club enables dozens or even hundreds of people to seamlessly invest in the loan, resulting in lower costs for borrowers and consistent returns for investors.
For more financial advice to carry you through a new year, visit www.mint.com/blog.
Without help, New Year’s resolutions can be tough, if not impossible to achieve. Innovative tools can give you a leg up toward your goals.