• Woman Working on Budget

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Make a New Budget for the New Year

What a great time to make a new budget! You’ve just finished the year and need to pull all your tax documents together anyway. Why not take a close look now at what you earned and what you spent? Building a budget—and sticking to it—could be the best New Year’s Resolution you ever make.

Use these 6 strategies to create a budget for the New Year that you can stick to.

Be realistic. You can’t stick to a budget if it sets impossible standards of earning or saving. Use numbers from your real life! What do you pay every month for rent, food and fun? What do you actually earn? Don’t include bonuses that you can’t count on –there’s another way to handle windfalls of cash.

Find areas to trim. Once you really understand what you earn and how much you spend, you’ll have a better idea about where you might be able to trim from your budget. Use money saving tips to avoid unnecessary expenses and find ways to save on those you can’t avoid.

Create a fund for mini-emergencies. Even the best budgets can be derailed by unexpected expenses. So fund them before they happen. Build up a cash reserve for things like car repairs and appliance repair or replacement. It will help you stay on budget when unanticipated expenses arise.

Pay down debt. It’s great when you can borrow money for important purchases. Do you know what’s even better? Paying off those loans! Whether you borrowed for a car, your education or another big purchase, set aside money every month to pay down your loans –even if they’re not yet due.  Start with small, high-interest rate loans. And also make payments toward your student loans whenever you have extra money.

Use windfalls wisely. If you get a tax refund, earn a bonus at work, or receive an unexpected inheritance, don’t blow it! Use it to pay down your debt or begin saving for a rainy day. Financial experts recommend that you have a fund that can cover six months’ worth of living expenses. Do you?

Build for your financial future. Once your budget is set and you have built your emergency funds, it’s time to plan for the future. Investigate long-term saving strategies and investments.  If your company offers retirement plans, make sure to participate and choose the maximum you can afford. Attend free financial planning seminars and lectures and do your own research. You may also want to consider working with a financial planner as your nest egg grows.

Are you ready to invest in the New Year? One of the best investments you can make is an investment in yourself. Start with your education! Charter College has career-focused programs in Aviation, Business, Healthcare, Hospitality, Information Technology, Paralegal Studies, Veterinary Assistant and some Trades. If you’re ready for a bright 2016, start here.