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FINANCIAL RESOLUTIONS FOR 2022

New year’s resolutions are not only about improving your health and finally reading that book that’s been on your nightstand for months. There are financial considerations that you can put in place to help make 2022 a banner year. Consider these financial resolutions to help you achieve your goals.

PAY YOURSELF FIRST

To save money intended for a new car or high-tech gadget, start by setting aside funds from your paycheck that are connected to your goals before you spend on groceries, the mortgage or rent. This will put a portion of your paycheck directly into a savings account either through direct deposit or via a schedule automatic transfer.

The goal is to ensure your money is put somewhere you will save it, not spend it. The key to the strategy is having the discipline to always put money aside.

How much should you put away? That’s up to you. It can be $2 or $200, but the goal is to routinely make a point to put some money away into a savings account.

AVOID AN IMPULSE PURCHASE

It’s easy to scroll through websites and see a few “must-have” items. But it’s also easy to have buyer’s remorse.

According to User Interface Engineering, a study found that impulse purchases account for almost 40 percent of all the money spent on e-commerce sites.

Some items are worthwhile, but often others end up rarely used or in a drawer never to be seen again. When thinking about a purchase, consider if you truly need the product. Wait a day and then assess if you can live without it.

If you have plans for a vacation or a larger purchase, think about how the “impulse buy” will affect those goals. Review your budget to see if it fits.

Remember, that flashy product will likely be on sale in a few months. Be patient. Prices in technology often decrease after demand drops.

Another tip is to go old school: Pay in cash.

According to AARP, studies have shown that those who pay in cash instead of using a credit card spend less. The effect is psychological. The Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied said the paying with cash makes you a little more stingy before you spend it. You’re more likely to stick to your budget.

People tend to overspend when using credit cards.

SAVE WITH DIY PROJECTS

It can be expensive – and frustrating — to pay for unexpected mishaps or bills. But some projects don’t have to empty your pockets. Try to do things yourself that you normally let others do. For example, when the Lowcountry weather is nice (which is often every day), go outside and wash your car. Americans spend about $5.8 billion a year at car wash facilities, according to a report by the US Census Bureau.

That is a lot of money that can be saved.

Homeowners can save cash. A Nerdwallet report said 30 percent of homeowners have not saved enough money to pay for repairs.

There are many reliable tutorials online to help with repairs, including tips on shutters and remodeling the bathroom floor.

EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED

Emergencies happen. Surprise expenses will undoubtedly pop up. It’s important to be prepared. Create an emergency fund with about three to five months’ worth of living expenses set aside. If possible, try saving about 5% of your monthly income, which should only be used in an emergency. A little bit added at a time will keep you prepared for a major expense.

According to a Bankrate Emergency Savings Survey, 51 percent of Americans have less than three months’ worth of expenses covered in an emergency fund. Bankrate said 34 percent of those surveyed say they have less money in their savings account than before the pandemic.

A key to saving money is scrutinizing your purchases. What is essential (groceries, power bill) and what is non-essential (streaming services, tablets)?

INCREASE YOUR CREDIT SCORE

money2A strong credit score is important if you are looking for loans or affordable insurance premiums. Paying off the balance on a credit card each month is a step toward a better credit score. Make sure you pay bills on time. Your ability to pay bills on time is the “largest scoring factor in both FICO and VantageScore credit scoring systems,” according to Nerdwallet. A tip to pay bills on time: Set up payment reminders. Bills can pile up fast; setting up reminders prevents you from falling behind.