2018 ain't over 'til it's over. Whether you want to make good on a forgotten money resolution or get a head start going into 2019, here are nine items you can easily mark off you money checklist before New Years.
1. Improve your credit score
Building solid credit can take time, but there are few things you can do to improve your standing in 30 days or less.
- Pay down a high credit card balance to lower your credit-to-debt ratio.
- Pull your credit reports at AnnualCreditReport.com and dispute any mistakes you find with the credit bureau in question.
- Shore up a past due account or pay off an account in collections.
From there, pay all your bills on time, keep your credit usage below at least 30% of your total limits and limit new inquiries in a short window of time.
2. Make a will
Thanks to online legal sites, you can create an estate plan with relative ease. Our partner Trust and Will, for instance, helps you write a last will and testament in about 15 minutes. The service costs $69 per individual and $129 for you and your spouse, but you can use offer code "protectmylegacy" to get $10 off. After customizing your documents, be sure review and the sign documents alongside two witnesses and notary.
3. Cancel old subscriptions
Erase potential 2019 money-wasters by combing through your November bank or credit card statements for subscriptions you no longer use. Take the steps to cancel these services so you don't have to include them in your new budget.
4. Draft a new budget
This simple spreadsheet can help you set monthly spending and saving goals for 2019.
5. Start an emergency fund
Trick yourself into saving more in 2019 by opening a high-yield savings account with a financial institution you're not currently in business with. Why? It'll be much harder to later move your savings into your checking account and spend away. You can compare savings and money market accounts with Even Financial. Speaking of saving more ...
6. Up your 401(k) contributions
Bolster your retirement nest egg by directing more of your paycheck into an employer-sponsored 401(k). Most employers let you change the amount you're automatically rolling over all year round (Hint: you can contribute even more to your 401(k) in 2019). Contact Human Resources to see what paperwork you'll need to fill out.
7. Get a 2018 tax break
You have until Dec. 31 to lower your taxable income via 401(k) contributions, charitable donations and savings deposited into a 529 plan. You also should spend what's left in your flexible spending account, as those funds generally don't roll over year to year.
8. Open an individual retirement account
If you don't have an employer-sponsored 401(k) and/or want to maximize your 2018 tax deductions, consider opening a traditional IRA.
For 2018, you can put up to $5,500 in an IRA, with those limits set to rise to $6,000 next year. Americans 50 or older can make an extra $1,000 per year in “catch-up” contributions.
9. Change your passwords
It's a good idea to update the passwords protecting your financial accounts at least once a year, given how prevalent data breaches have become. Change the codes protecting your banking, investment and even email accounts to something long and strong.
Our favorite security tip? Pick a long song lyric, add alphanumeric characters and play with capitalization to make a password that's extra-hard to hack.
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