BBB Tip: How to improve your finances in the new year
Milwaukee, Wis. – The holiday expenses may be looming on the credit card bill, or perhaps the bank balance is a little lighter from the extra gifts exchanged with family and friends.
The current COVID-19 pandemic continues to affect households. People are reassessing retirement timelines, considering where and how they live, and assessing future personal goals in the face of the new omicron variant. Several federal financial programs are coming to an end soon, and employment opportunities vary from one sector to another. As consumers look ahead to the new year, having a stable financial footing may become a necessary goal to meet day-to-day needs.
When thinking about current finances and sticking to a New Year’s Resolution, consider these tips from BBB:
- Inventory your credit cards. Credit cards are known to have high-interest rates, and this can waste a lot of money over time. Reach out to the credit card company to see if a balance transfer offer can be used to switch to a card with a lower rate or ask if the interest rate can be lowered. Research the financial institution where the credit card is held on BBB.org first. Read the terms and contract very carefully – there may be big penalties if a payment is missed. If you have multiple cards, decide which debt-paying strategy is best for you. Some experts recommend paying off cards with the highest interest rates first. Others recommend paying off cards with the smallest balances first. Additionally, try sending in payments throughout the month. Put the $5 that would have been spent on a morning coffee towards debt instead.
- Avoid wasting money on unethical businesses or scams. When making a purchase or choosing a business, check with BBB. Making careful decisions now can save time, money, and headaches later. Research all companies at BBB.org, and check BBB Scam Tracker regularly to see what scams are happening in your area.
- Take advantage of free tools. There are many online tools that can help manage and reduce debt.
- Start budgeting. Creating a written budget and tracking spending is one of the best ways to save money and stop spending more than what is earned. First, figure out how much debt you have; you need an accurate picture before you can figure out your budget. Note the difference between fixed expenses, needs, and wants. If you have debt, include repayment goals in your budget. If possible, factor in retirement and emergency savings. Save money by giving up morning coffee – and cooking at home instead of getting takeout. Factor in any alternate income that you can think of, like selling unused items or part-time work in the gig economy.
For more information or further inquiries, contact the Wisconsin BBB at www.bbb.org/wisconsin, 414-847-6000 or 1-800-273-1002. Consumers also can find more information about how to protect themselves from scams by following the Wisconsin BBB on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.
ABOUT BBB: For more than 100 years, the Better Business Bureau has been helping people find businesses, brands and charities they can trust. In 2020, people turned to BBB more than 220 million times for BBB Business Profiles on 6.2 million businesses and Charity Reports on 11,000 charities, all available for free at BBB.org. There are local, independent BBBs across the United States, Canada and Mexico, including BBB Serving Wisconsin which was founded in 1939 and serves the state of Wisconsin.