Jan 2, 2010

Bucko's Bucks - Financial Resolutions :o)

Experts say starting the new year on solid financial footing is essential to long- and short-term prosperity. But it's hard to know what to do -- beyond setting a budget and freezing your credit cards.  These 10 tips can help you make the most of the New Year and improve your financial outlook.

1. Run your credit report.
Before you can improve your financial outlook, you need to know where you stand.
2. Make a plan
Taking time today to identify your financial goals for tomorrow will help put you on the path to affording a vacation this summer or paying off a credit card. 
  • Become a "Two Minute Rule" shopper instead of an impulse shopper. If you see something you want to buy, walk away from it for two minutes You'll likely leave the impulse behind and enter the land of reason.
  • Pay down the credit card with the highest interest rate first.
  • Contribute to your IRA/Roth IRA and a 401(k) plan, if your employer offers it.
  • Be aware of fees on ATMs when using a bank other than your own, and high interest rates on credit cards and start using cash instead of a credit card.

3. Learn from your financial past
When you sit down to organize or perform your taxes, take stock of where your money has gone over the past year.  Once you have categorized your spending, reorganize those items into needs versus wants, since it will help you make better financial decisions to adjust your budget for the year to come.

4. Involve your family
Anyone who participates in the spending should be involved in the planning.  If that only involves pets, let them play with the receipts, if nothing else, it will be good for a laugh :o)

5. Audit your insurance
Life Insurance and Car Insurance costs have gone down over the past decade or so, so take a look at your rates and your deductables.  I know that I am not going to go through the hassle of submitting a $500 claim and risk my rates going up.
6. Pay online
Online bill payments (ebills) are a convenient, secure and environmentally helpful way of delivering the bills we pay to our computers and allowing us to schedule payment with the click of a mouse button.  Check out these reasons to make the move to online bill-paying:

  • Avoid fees.
  • Save a few bucks. Although the US Post Office won't like to hear this, your household can save up to $50 a year on postage fees (based on you paying 10 bills every month).
  • Protect the environment. According to Shaw, if you pay 10 bills online every month, you reduce 151 pounds of Greenhouse gases, prevent 37 pounds of waster water from being distributed into lakes, streams and rivers and save four pounds of paper. 
7. Review your property taxes
If you think your property is being taxed on a value that is higher than its current market value, you may be able to reduce your annual property tax bill. Contact your county assessor's office and complete an "Application for Decline-in-Value Reassessment" form.

8. Consider a Roth IRA conversion
Starting Jan. 1st, the $100,000 income limit that has prevented many individuals from converting a traditional IRA to a Roth IRA will be eliminated. With a Roth IRA, growth and withdrawals are tax-free, so with this new change, it's a great move to convert in many cases.

9. Control your investment costs
A quick and easy way to check on your funds expenses is through either Morningstar.com or Google Finance.
10. Look ahead
In 2010 the Bush tax cuts are likely to expire and although all tax brackets may not be affected, current government policy, such as health care reform, would indicate that people at higher income levels may have a significantly higher tax burden going forward.

For more details and links, go to WalletPop.


  1. Hi Ken,
    I'm sure hoping that the health care reform is financed by taxes on the cadillac plans rather than on incomes ... I don't think it's been determined yet how it will work.

  2. Thanks for the solid tips. I was unaware of #8; I plan to look into making some changes. Happy New Year!

  3. Great, soud advice! When I saw Bucko's Bucks...I thought you were going to giving away some "funny money!"

  4. Sage advice Ken. Good tips for every consumer.


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