Dieting and exercise aren’t the only ways to get in shape in the New Year--consumers should also pledge to make 2013 the year they get financially fit.
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“People may be a little disappointed about the results of the last year,” says Grant Cardone, author and host of National Geographic Channel’s Turnaround King. "They can start by looking at anything they can clean up immediately.”
Getting your finances into shape won’t require major lifestyle changes and the same diet rule of moderation also applies to getting a fit budget.
The first step is to evaluate past mistakes. “You want to look back so you won’t let that happen again,” says Eric Wasson, vice president of business development at Hefty Wealth Partners. Whether you got hit with finances charges because off overdue bills or held on to a stock longer than you should have, Wasson recommends identifying all the 2012 money mishaps and commit to not making the same mistakes this year. “Continuing to improve ties into the mindset of getting better a little bit each years.”
Now is also the time to review your investments to ensure you have the appropriate risk portfolio. According to Wasson, consumers often compare their portfolio’s performance to the stock market even if they are invested fully in bonds, which paints an inaccurate picture. You need to do an apples-to-apples comparison to make sure you are investing appropriately for your age and goals. For instance, if you have 20 years to retirement, it’s common to have more of your portfolio invested in stocks compared to on the cusp of retirement who might be considering bond investments.
For many of us, overspending is common during the holiday, but Cardone suggests being more proactive and returning any unwanted or hardly-looked at gifts for you or family members. Once you return those items, he says to treat that money as income and put it toward paying down debt or a savings goal like an education fund.
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“2013 is about creating income and how to expand income,” says Cardone. In addition to returning unused gifts, you may want to consider selling used goods or getting a second job. “Middle class taxes are going up. People have to learn how to create more income.”
To control debt in the new year, Cardone advises using a maximum of two credit cards and to reign in on needless spending. “You have to get serious with the household that you won’t spend on the dumb stuff.” To help limit unnecessary spending, Cardone rates everything he is considering purchasing on a scale from one to five. If the item rate a one, two or three he isn’t buying it.
While most people think about their taxes only during the weeks leading up to the April 15 deadline, Wasson suggests making a game plan in January. “A lot of the time people start thinking about their taxes on April 16. They are four-and-a-half months late thinking about 2013 taxes.”