Young Adults: Make your money work for you in the New Year

Managing finances is tough. There’s no universal solution that applies to all people. It really depends on your personal income, debt, and household budget. Also, sometimes it isn’t as easy as the 10-10-80 rule. At least I haven’t found it so easy. Within the last few months I’ve had some drastic changes happen within my budget. And, once those changes were made (I thought for the better), I still found I was wasting money.

One day as I was looking over my bank statement and it just hit me: I was paying way too much in fees and not getting enough return in my investment. This is true for many people. It may not be bank fees, but there are some areas where your money can be more useful. Now is the perfect time to reflect and evaluate your finances to ring in a more prosperous New Year.

Ask yourself the following questions.

  • Am I getting the most out of my money?
  • Is my money working for me?
  • Do I have a savings cushion to rely on?
  • Is my money going to good use?

If you answered “no” to the above questions, it’s time for a new game plan. Here are some steps you can take to have a prosperous 2010.

Determine if money is being wasted and fix the problem. This could include many areas. For me it was in high bank fees. I moved my money to a different financial institution that does not charge a monthly account maintenance fee. Some people are paying too much in auto insurance. Ask yourself this question, “Am I paying for services that are typically free elsewhere?” If you answered “yes” resolve to change those habits and put your money to better use.

Research new products that will help you get where you want to go. I chose to switch financial institutions, but often it is as easy as choosing a different product within the same financial institution. Take a look at your account statements and research similar products to get the best value. Doing this will guarantee your money is working for you. Also, if your situation happens to be with a financial product such as a savings or retirement account changing investment strategies will help your money to grow more productively.

Set a goal and strive to achieve it. I want to travel more. Even if it’s just once a year, it’s something I want to do for myself. So I decided on my dream destination, researched how much it would take to get there (and back), and I’m saving up for the trip. What are your financial goals? Maybe it’s beginning graduate school or buying a home. Clearly write out your goals, what all is involved to achieve it, how much money it will take, and a timeframe on achieving the goal. When setting a timeframe, it’s more beneficial to state a specific date.

For many people, the New Year is a time to make resolutions they hope to achieve to better their lives. Whether the past year was prosperous or not there’s always room for improvement and the opportunity to maximize your earning potential.

Renee McGruder is a former communications coordinator and grant writer at MMI.

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