Six ways to help you save money this year.

Here are six ways to help you save more money this year

The Citizens' Voice - - FRONT PAGE - BY MATTHEW GOLD­BERG BANKRATE.COM

Im­prov­ing your diet and health are com­mon New Year’s res­o­lu­tions. But im­prov­ing your fi­nan­cial health needs to be a pri­or­ity, too.

“What peo­ple don’t re­al­ize is your fi­nances re­ally af­fect ev­ery part of your life — your re­la­tion­ships, how you feel about your­self,” says Crys­tal Rau, cer­ti­fied fi­nan­cial plan­ner at Be­yond Bal­anced Fi­nan­cial Plan­ning. “And so, just like go­ing to the gym and feel­ing bet­ter about your­self, fo­cus­ing on your fi­nances can re­ally do a lot to have a bet­ter year.”

Make 2019 the year you take your sav­ings to the next level. Here are six ways to save more this year.

1. Au­to­mate ev­ery­thing

You can’t for­get to save if it’s au­to­mated. Whether it’s your 401(k) con­tri­bu­tion taken pre­tax from your salary, or au­to­matic trans­fers from your check­ing ac­count into a sav­ings ac­count or money mar­ket ac­count, au­tomat­ing will help you save with­out even think­ing about it.

Lau­ren Zan­gardi Haynes, CIMA, cer­ti­fied fi­nan­cial plan­ner at Spark Fi­nan­cial Ad­vi­sors, says your em­ployer may be able to also split your pay­check so it goes into both your check­ing ac­count and a sav­ings ac­count.

“And then you can au­to­mat­i­cally trans­fer that money to an in­vest­ment ac­count, or to an IRA, or to a Roth

IRA,” Zan­gardi Haynes says.

2. Eval­u­ate your bank­ing

Take a look at your sav­ings ac­count to make sure that you’re earn­ing a com­pet­i­tive an­nual per­cent­age yield (APY). Yields have climbed in the past year, and a num­ber of sav­ings ac­counts are of­fer­ing more than 2 per­cent APY. If you’re not earn­ing this, you’re miss­ing out on real earn­ings.

Also, take a look at your check­ing ac­count. If you’re in­cur­ring a monthly main­te­nance fee for go­ing un­der a re­quired min­i­mum bal­ance, you should be able to find a way to avoid that whether through a low min­i­mum bal­ance check­ing ac­count or by hav­ing a re­cur­ring di­rect de­posit.

Com­pare sav­ings ac­counts and check­ing ac­counts to make sure you’re max­i­miz­ing yields and min­i­miz­ing fees.

3. At­tack your debt

If you have any debt, make pay­ing this off a pri­or­ity. The in­tere s t you’re pay­ing on a credit card is likely a lot more than what you’re earn­ing on a sav­ings ac­count. (A bal­ance trans­fer cards or ones with zero per­cent in­tro­duc­tory pe­ri­ods are ex­cep­tions.)

“If you have any credit card debt, you need to pay that off im­me­di­ately with­out even con­sid­er­ing any­thing else,” says Amy Hub­ble, PH.D., CFA, cer­ti­fied fi­nan­cial plan­ner at Radix Fi­nan­cial LLC.

There were four Fed­eral Re­serve rate in­creases in

2018. Each of those in­creased the Wall

Street Jour­nal Prime Rate, which di­rectly im­pacts most vari­able credit card an­nual per­cent­age rates. These in­creased the amount of in­ter­est paid on credit cards, if you have an out­stand­ing bal­ance.

4. Max­i­mize your cash back

When you make your pur­chases in 2019, make sure you’re max­i­miz­ing your sav­ings and cash back.

Weigh whether you’d be bet­ter off earn­ing more cash back with a credit card that has an an­nual fee but higher cash-back re­wards, or a no-an­nual fee card that has a lower cash-back per­cent­age.

Credit card shop­ping por­tals are also places where you can po­ten­tially max­i­mize your cash back. By go­ing through your credit card’s web­site or through a site such as Ebates, you can po­ten­tially earn more than your usual cash back. On a site like Ebates, you’re earn­ing cash back in ad­di­tion to what you earn on your cash-back credit card.

5. Eval­u­ate your bud­get

The new year is a great time to make sure you’re not over­pay­ing or pay­ing for monthly items that aren’t be­ing used. Go through your bud­get — or monthly ex­penses if you don’t have a bud­get. It’s easy to start a bud­get — and it can help you max­i­mize your sav­ings. See

if there are ar­eas of op­por­tu­nity, such as cut­ting back on din­ing out or on cof­fee or other spend­ing, that adds up over time. Also, go through your bud­get and try to rene­go­ti­ate items, Rau says.

“I check our in­sur­ance just to make sure we’re still get­ting the best rate for the cov­er­ages that we’re car­ry­ing,” Rau says. “It’s just about do­ing a re­set ev­ery year, just to make sure you’re get­ting the best deal and you’re tak­ing ad­van­tage of all those things that are of­fered to you.”

6. Re­view your em­ployee ben­e­fits

Even though open en­roll­ment likely al­ready hap­pened for 2019, you may be able to ad­just some op­tions — such as how much you con­trib­ute to your em­ployer-spon­sored re­tire­ment plan, like a 401(k). Ad­just­ing your with­hold­ing for taxes or how much you’re putting away for re­tire­ment — which may re­duce your tax­able in­come — is a way to po­ten­tially save money, Rau says. Con­sult with a tax ad­viser to make sure that your strat­egy makes sense to save money on taxes.

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