The new year is upon us, and it’s a great time to plan for your financial future. Here are five financial resolutions to consider for 2024.
1. GET A HIGH-INTEREST SAVINGS ACCOUNT
Interest rates are still high on savings accounts right now, especially high-yield online savings accounts. Some accounts are offering more than 5% annual percentage yield, which is 10 times more than the national average on savings accounts. Take advantage of this “free” money by opening a new account with a high rate or upgrading your current one. Just make sure you avoid fees as much as possible, and choose a bank or credit union that is easy for you to access, either through remote customer service or in person.
2. FOCUS ON STUDENT LOAN REPAYMENT
For many, student loan payments resumed in 2023. If you’re feeling anxious or uncertain about how much you owe, it’s best to face the numbers head-on and see if there’s any way you can reduce your payments. For example, if you earn less money now than you did before student loan payments were paused, then updating your income in your student loan portal may change the amount of your income-driven repayment. There’s another way you might be able to reduce your payment if you’re on an income-driven repayment plan: If you have a retirement fund, you may want to consider putting some money away as a way to reduce your student loan payment.
“If you put your money in a pre-tax retirement account, that lowers your taxable income for the year,” says Jen Mayer, an accredited financial counselor and founder of the Brooklyn, New York-based firm Fully Funded. “The percentage that you’re paying for income-driven repayment is going to be lower.”
3. BUILD YOUR FINANCIAL KNOWLEDGE AND SET SOME GOALS
Though personal finance isn’t a standard part of an American education, there are plenty of ways to learn more about budgeting, saving and investing. Whether you browse reputable sites online, check out finance books from your library, or talk to a certified financial planner or other licensed expert, there are lots of people who are eager to impart their financial know-how.
As you learn more about personal finance, you might find yourself getting inspired to create your own financial goals. Perhaps you want to retire early, save for a down payment on a house or build a healthy emergency fund. Once you’ve nailed down your goals, you can determine how much money you’ll need, then set a timeline for saving it.
4. TRY USING AI FOR YOUR FINANCES
In 2023, artificial intelligence chatbots such as ChatGPT and Bard became popular tools for research and advice. In 2024, you can experiment with using them for your finances. You can give a bot specific prompts, such as “My salary is $50,000, and I want to save $5,000 by the end of the year. How can I do that?” and it can do the math for you, calculating what you need to save and suggesting how to cut back on different expenses. You can also instruct a chatbot to find you good deals for things like groceries, school supplies, gifts and more. Just remember that AI pulls information from various sources, and those sources may not always be accurate. Be sure to double-check any information you receive by doing the math yourself, checking with an expert or going to a reputable website to learn more.
5. SET UP RECURRING DONATIONS TO A NONPROFIT
Recurring donations provide reliable income to nonprofit organizations, which allows them to plan their budgets more easily. If you’re interested in setting up recurring donations for a particular nonprofit, there are several ways you can do this.
Check with your employer to see if they match donations and if they have an online portal to do so. This can be an easy way to make your donations go further.
If you’re donating on your own, you can typically do so through a nonprofit’s website, but Shavon Roman, a personal finance expert and founder of Heal. Plan. Invest., says there are ways to make it even easier.
“Most charities will give out their information so that you can wire donations from your bank account or send them through Zelle,” Roman said. “You can automatically transfer a certain amount of money on a regular basis, and it’s within a system that you control. During tax season, you can also see exactly how much money you donated when you want to file a tax deduction.”
Before you make any donations, you may want to do an internet search for the organization to confirm that it is a 501(c)(3). These organizations are considered tax-exempt by the U.S. government, so you’ll be eligible to write off these donations when you do your taxes.
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This column was provided to The Associated Press by the personal finance website NerdWallet. Chanelle Bessette is a writer at NerdWallet. Email: email@example.com. Twitter: @crbessette.
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