As soon as the glitz, glamor, and excitement of ringing in the New Year fade, the inevitable dread sets in for many as they realize those midnight chimes mark the start of the countdown to tax season. Whether it is for tax season or as part of a New Year’s resolution, there may be no better time to start getting your finances in order than in the new year. Here are three tips to help you get started.
Track your spending
Eventually, you will want to create a budget, but before creating a realistic budget, you have to understand where all of your money is going. People are often surprised to find out that their biggest expenses each month are actually a series of small purchases that add up over time. It may not seem like a big deal to spend $6 on a latte until you realize that a $6 latte five days a week over the course of a month is $150.
Create a budget
Unless you get a second job or create an additional revenue stream, your income will not change from month to month. If you want to do things like travel, pay off debt or buy large things like a home or a car, you’re going to have to reallocate how you spend your money. For instance, it might make it worth it to give up those $6 lattes if you understand that by doing that, it frees up $150 a month you can then put towards paying down debt or saving for a big vacation. The best way to make sure you are using your money to your best advantage is to prioritize your spending.
Use a money tracking app like Mint or Quickbooks
Although it is important to track your money before setting a budget, it’s even more important to keep tracking it afterward. Your expenses each month will always be in flux to some degree, and small purchases can really add up, particularly when they are subscriptions. It doesn’t help to save $100 a month cutting the cable only to end up spending even more on streaming services. Tracking your money throughout the year will also make tax time a breeze.