But much like moving to a new city, starting a new job or making new friends, a new year can provide the spark we need to make some adjustments. Sometimes all we need to start fresh is a good excuse, and it doesn’t have to be anything more complicated than a change in the calendar year.
If you’re looking to make 2017 a more lucrative year than 2016, consider these financial tips.
File Your Taxes Sooner
The official tax deadline isn’t until April 18 (an extra few days this year!), but that doesn’t mean you should wait that long to start the process. Tax expert and blogger Kay Bell of Don’t Mess with Taxes recommends filing taxes sooner rather than later.
“That way if you get a refund, it's in your bank account, invested or paying down debt sooner,” she said.
You can file your taxes as soon as January 23, 2017. Even if you don’t file in January, organizing your documents early will make tax time much less stressful. Take a look at our tax refund calendar if you want an estimate of when you could get your tax refund based on when you file.
Find Ways to Make Extra Money
“Everyone has time to make extra money, no matter how busy you are,” she said. “The average person watches over 30 hours of TV a week, so you could start by eliminating some of your TV time so that you can make more money.”
Some ideas include freelancing or consulting in your industry, finding a part-time retail gig, taking online surveys, signing up for bank or credit card bonuses, dog sitting and more. Imagination is key here, so take some time to consider what you like doing – and what you’re good at.
Refinance Your Loans
Refinancing any of your loans can save money, whether you have a mortgage, auto debt or student loans. For example, you could save more than $3,000 total if you refinance a $30,000 student loan from 6.5% interest to 4.49%.
You’ll typically need to have a credit score of 750 or higher to qualify for the best interest rates. You’ll also need to have no negative marks on your credit report. Compare the rates and terms of every potential refinance offer before you choose a new lender.
You might not be able to refinance multiple loans at the same time. Instead, it’s better to wait and do them separately.
If you’re looking to refinance your student loans, we recommend Credible. They are a comparison tool and you can see if you qualify in as little as 2 minutes with no hard credit check. Take a look at Credible here.
Cut Out Unnecessary Expenses
Take this time to look at your monthly expenses and cut out unnecessary spending. Are you subscribed to a magazine you never read? Are you paying for a Spotify membership you never use? All these extra fees add up quickly.
For example, the average cable subscription costs $100 a month. If you find yourself watching the same two shows every week, you can subscribe to Netflix or Hulu instead for $7.99 a month. That’s an extra $92 a month or $1,104 a year.
Here’s a great article about how we were able to save over $500 per month by simply cutting out random expenses in our budget. You’d be surprised how odd things like cable, gym memberships, and even lightbulbs can make a difference.
Pay Off More Debt
Adding extra money to an automatic monthly payment plan is one of the easiest ways to be debt free faster. Paying off debt becomes easier if you make it automatic instead of waiting until the end of the month to see if there’s anything left over.
Even a small amount adds up quickly. For example, if you pay an extra $25 every month on a $100,000 mortgage at 4% interest, you’ll pay off your debt 2.4 years faster and save $6,327 on interest.
You could also use a cool tool like Qoins. Qoins is the Acorns of getting out of debt. It rounds up your spare change and uses that money to help you pay down your debt. It’s all automated and it makes the process very easy. Check out Qoins here.
You don’t have to get crazy when it comes to the new year. In fact, if you set too many goals or chase too many ideas, you likely won’t get anything accomplished.
Instead, focus on a few key things that are important to you, and work towards progress. Remember, you have a whole year – you don’t need to accomplish everything in January.
What money goals will you be tackling first in 2017?