Jan 10, 2024

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A little boy giggles as a young woman pushes him around the living room floor in a laundry basket.

A new year is here. It can be a great time to make all sorts of New Year’s resolutions. Think about creating personal finance resolutions, as well as a plan to put them into motion. Setting financial goals might be the first step toward strengthening your finances and enjoying greater financial peace of mind throughout the entire year.

If you have set financial goals in the past and stumbled on your way to achieving them, don’t worry. You can begin 2024 with a clean slate and a fresh start. It’s a new year, after all.

One key to reaching big goals may be to divide them into small, doable steps. Think about the things that usually get in your way. Then, make a plan to avoid them. And try not to get disappointed if things don’t go perfectly. Plans often zigzag.

With that in mind, check out these 10 financial goals for 2024. Stick with them, and you might be surprised by how far you get in one year.

1. Get friendly with your credit score

A great way to kick off the year is to know your credit score. A credit score is like a report card for your finances. Scores typically range from 300 to 850. The higher your score, the better your financial picture looks to lenders. An understanding of your credit score might help you figure out steps you can take to improve it. That’s important, as a higher score may save you money in interest if you need to take out a loan.

2. Set a goal to pay down debt

Do you owe money on a high-interest credit card or other loan? If so, another resolution might be to pay off a chunk of it in 2024. Credit cards are a form of revolving debt, and if you don’t pay the balance in full each month, you can end up paying much more than the amount you originally borrowed.

Consider increasing the amount of your monthly payments. If you boost your payments, even by an extra $25 or $50 per month, it may help you pay down your higher-interest debt faster.

3. Level up your personal finance skills

These days there is a wealth of excellent information online. Whether you are a beginner or have been budgeting for years a great goal might be to learn more about personal finance.

For instance, do you think all debt is the same? Not so. Debt might be considered either good or bad. Bad debt, such as high-interest debt you struggle to pay or payday loans, might cost you more in interest and hold you back from reaching your financial resolutions. On the flip side, good debt might help you establish credit and build wealth. Mortgages, student loans, and other installment loans are all examples of loans that may help boost your credit health.

4. Think ahead to cover medical costs

Some medical expenses can be anticipated. You may have doctor visits or dental work planned. It is a good idea to factor those costs into your annual budget and plan accordingly. Sometimes a medical expense is unexpected. Either way, there are ways to help cushion the impact if you set a goal to plan for what you can.

5. Get a handle on education expenses

If you are looking at post-secondary education, or know someone who is, you already know that education costs can be steep. That’s why anticipating the costs of attending college is important. A student loan might help you pay for school-related expenses, such as tuition, housing, and fees, but make sure to include any impact that education loans or expenses might have on your annual budget. The start of the year is a good time to estimate what you are likely to spend.

6. Review your insurance closely

As you work on your budget, it may be helpful to review insurance policies or other important paperwork. Many health insurance policies begin at the new year. Other types of insurance, such as auto, life, and home insurance policies, should also be reviewed and possibly updated. Budgeting for these items is important—for you and your family. It is always helpful to consult with a tax or investment advisor and with a lawyer for guidance.

7. Have a plan for your future

Year after year, building a bigger retirement fund is one of the top New Year’s goals for many people. But changes in the cost of living may make it challenging. What can you do? If you have a 401(k) or another tax-deferred savings plan, start there. Calculate how a small increase in your contribution affects your take-home pay.1 If you can increase your contribution, even by 1%, it may add up over time. Before making any decisions, be sure to consult a tax professional or financial advisor.

8. Make the most of your home

Remember the “good debt” we talked about earlier? A home improvement project may fall into that category. And with a home improvement loan, you might be able to cover the cost of many home-related expenses—whether you are fixing the roof, replacing the kitchen cabinets, or adding an extra bathroom. Now is a good time to see if this fits into your budget and financial plans for the year. If so, consider kicking off the year by scheduling those improvements so they can be tackled during the right season.

9. Support your favorite cause

There is no shortage of worthy charities around the world. No matter what your preferred cause is, you could make an impact without breaking your budget. Every little bit helps, so focus on how you might plan any charitable giving you make during the year so that it fits comfortably into your budget. If you are unable to support a cause financially, maybe you can budget your time and talent to help out in your community.

10. Add an extra paycheck

One way to give your bank account a boost is by making money during your free time. There are plenty of “side hustles” out there—from freelancing and food delivery to babysitting and dog walking. Find something you enjoy and see if there is a way to make money doing it. And with more money coming in, you might be able to achieve your financial goals that much sooner.

Don’t forget to give yourself a break

Finally, while working on your financial health throughout 2024, don’t forget to recognize all your hard work. Take a moment to relax and reflect on your progress. You’ve earned it. Maybe treat yourself to a fancy coffee, a nice dinner, a spa visit, or a weekend getaway. Whatever your reward, just keep in mind the 50/30/20 budgeting rule.

Now that you have your New Year’s resolutions in place and have set your budget with these 10 goals in mind, you might consider other ways to add to your financial health. For instance, you may save money on higher-interest debt with a debt consolidation loan. With a Discover® personal loan, you can make one set regular monthly payment that you can plan for and build into your budget. In fact, over 2 million people reached their goals with the help of a Discover personal loan.

Commit to any one of these new year’s financial resolutions, start practicing the financial habits that will help you reach them, and you could be able to set even bigger goals next year.

You really could make progress over the course of a year, one small step at a time.

Wondering if consolidating higher-interest debt might help? Learn more about a personal loan from Discover.

Learn More about Debt Consolidation

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1 https://www.fidelity.com/viewpoints/retirement/save-more