NEW YORK (1/13/15) --With 2015 stretched out before you, now is a good time to set money goals so your finances are in better shape come 2016.
If you're one of the 62% of Americans a new survey found to have no emergency savings, a good first goal is to start an emergency savings account (MarketWatch
Jan. 7). Open a supplemental retirement account like a Roth IRA (individual retirement account), which allows you to withdraw the money you deposit at any time penalty free. That way you're saving money for retirement, but it's also there for unplanned expenses such as car trouble, an emergency home repair, or health problems.
Here are some other good financial goals to strive for this year (The New York Times
Emphasize savings. If you're saving 8% of your income every year, saving just one percentage point more increases your overall annual savings by 12.5%. A good place to start is raises. If you received a raise, instead of increasing your spending, increase your savings--whether it's for retirement, education, or your emergency savings account;
Reexamine your investments. Do you have too much invested in stocks? It can be tempting when the stock market is doing well to expose your portfolio to more risk. Make sure you have and maintain the right mix for your goals and age; and
Max out your tax-advantaged accounts. Taking full advantage of your dependent care, health savings and employer-provided pretax transit accounts is an easy way to save money each year. If you can afford it, you can compound your savings by waiting to be reimbursed until the end of the year, and then investing that money in an IRA or 529 college savings account.
Also, take a look at your debt levels. As the economy recovers and you feel more financially secure, it can be tempting to take on more debt and assume you always can pay it off later. But when it comes to your finances, it's good to remember the maxim "hope for the best but plan for the worst."
For related information, read "New Year Resolutions: Keep It Simple for Success" in the Home & Family Finance Resource Center.