Millions of people are eyeing a fresh financial start as the new year nears. With 67% of Americans planning to make a financial resolution in 2024, paying off debt is the most common goal. Despite an air of optimism, resolutions like this are quickly put on the backburner without a plan driving them forward.
“With rising inflation, increasing interest rates and economic uncertainty looming, paying off debt should be a top priority,” said Amy Maliga, financial educator with Take Charge America, a nonprofit credit counseling and debt management agency. “While these factors create stress, it’s possible to take control of your finances and set up a more secure and confident future.”
Maliga shares seven tips for consumers to achieve their financial goals:
- Set intentions: Create realistic short- and long-term saving and budgeting goals that hold you accountable and keep you motivated to achieve them. There are a variety of calculators available online for developing budgets or estimating your average spending habits.
- Start with little things: Evaluate spending habits and current subscriptions while embracing minimalism and decluttering. Sell items you no longer need to free up your living space and earn extra money.
- Consider skill trading: Explore bartering or trading services with others to reduce your overall expenses. Are you highly organized or great with kids? Consider trading childcare or home organizing with a service you need, such as lawn maintenance or airport travel.
- Join the gig economy: In today’s on-demand world, it’s easy to turn your free time into money-making time. Get extra cash to pay off debt or reach a savings goal through ride shares, food delivery, home maintenance, tutoring and much more.
- Automate your financial life: Identify opportunities to save or pay off debt automatically, so you don’t have to give it a second thought. Consider scheduling two credit card payments monthly or updating your direct deposit so a portion of your paycheck is automatically diverted into savings.
- Get an accountability partner: Enlist the help of a close friend, spouse or another loved one to reach your financial goals. You’re more likely to be successful if you share your habits and progress with someone you trust.
- Seek debt relief options: If you are deep in debt, seek relief options such as nonprofit credit counseling or debt management to help reclaim your financial independence.
For additional financial resources, visit Take Charge America’s Budget Tools at takechargeamerica.org.
Founded in 1987, Take Charge America, Inc. is a nonprofit agency offering financial education and counseling services including credit counseling, debt management, housing counseling and bankruptcy counseling. It has helped more than 2 million consumers nationwide manage their personal finances and debts. To learn more, visit takechargeamerica.org or call (888) 822-9193.