Thanks to Wall Street's wild ride in 2015, more Americans
plan to make financial resolutions, according to a recent Fidelity survey. While
the top two resolutions of "save more" and "spend less"
seem pretty straight forward, they're easier said than done. Here are more
money moves experts recommend adding to your resolution list:
1. Pay off debt
With the Federal Reserve raising interest rates for the
first time in nearly a decade, 2016 is the year to commit to reducing
consumer debt. Many credit card interest rates are variable, which means the
annual percentage rate (APR) will likely rise as the central bank continues to
If you have several outstanding debts, he recommended
prioritizing in order of highest to lowest interest rates when making payments.
2. Create an
Part of the "saving more" resolution should
include putting money aside to cover unexpected expenses or to help make ends
meets in the event of a job loss. Experts recommend stashing away three to six
months of costs. Where in that range you fall depends on your personal
situation, said Stuart Ritter, senior financial planner and vice president of
T. Rowe Price Investment Services. Be sure to keep the money easily accessible,
like a savings or money market account, he added.
3. Increase your
Experts generally recommend contributing at least 10% of
your income into retirement accounts. If you can't quite swing that much, don't
worry, you don't have to make the leap all at once. Every three months,
increase your contributions by 1% to 2%, suggested Kimberly Foss, and certified
financial planner and founder of Empyrion Wealth Management.
4. Assess your
It's also a good idea to start the new year by taking stock
of your investments and making sure they align with your goals and risk
tolerance. Make sure you know exactly what you're invested in. Even if you
chose an asset allocation when you first started investing, you should review
and reallocate at least once a year to stay on track. Christopher Krell, a
certified financial planner at Cassaday & Company, said he recently worked
with a couple who thought they were diversified only to realize the various
mutual funds and ETFs they chose were all invested in the same stocks.
5. Review your
If 2015 brought major life changes like marriage, divorce or
a child, it's time to assess your insurance plans and beneficiaries. Life
insurance needs tend to increase when there are more dependents on your
salary. Also review the beneficiaries of
an insurance or retirement plan -- they're likely to change following a
marriage or divorce.
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