Serious about getting financially fit for 2012???

Serious about getting financially fit in 2012?

Initially get rid of any hazy promises. Sit down and make a list about exactly what you want to achieve. Designate something you can do each month, starting with your intended spending habits in each month to get your budget and savings plan on track.

Here’s how you can start:

1. AUTOMATE

Setting up automatic savings is easy on most bank websites. Add auto bill pay, and you will take a big step toward avoiding late charges that run up costs unnecessarily. Making payments on time is also the single most important thing you can do to maintain a healthy credit score.

At least once a month, designate a day to go over your performance during the prior few weeks, and make any adjustments that are necessary.

2. CHECK CREDIT REPORTS

Everyone is entitled to one free credit report per year from each of the three major agencies, TransUnion, Equifax and Experian. The data in these reports is what’s used to determine your credit score, which in turn is what banks and credit card companies use to decide if they’ll lend to you and at what interest rate. You may find mistakes that could be hurting your score as well. These errors can be easily fixed and can dramatically adjust your credit score in your favor.

To take things one step further, you can visit www.myfico.com, which is offering a free credit score to those who sign up for a 10-day free trial of its credit monitoring service. After the 10 days, the service is $14.95 per month.

3. USE YOUR JOB BENEFITS

Are you aware of all the benefits offered through your health insurance? Log in to your insurance company, employer and, if you belong to a union, the union’s website benefits page to find out if you’re eligible for reimbursement or discounts on health club memberships or programs to help you with weight loss or quit smoking programs.

Likewise, many companies and unions offer extra benefits that are often overlooked, from Flexible Spending Accounts, to discounts on cell phone plans and computer purchases, reduced price travel and entertainment, pet insurance, college test preparation programs and even legal advice. Ask your human resources department or visit UnionPlus.org to learn how you can shave dollars off spending you’ll likely be doing anyway.

4. REBALANCE INVESTMENTS

Rebalancing involves adjusting the mix of stocks, bonds and alternative investments you hold to keep them appropriate for your stage of life and the amount of risk you’re willing to take. The first step of the process is setting the targets for what sort of mix you should have. Even if all you have is a 401(k) plan through work, it’s important to make sure the funds you picked when you first enrolled are the best choices for you at each stage of your life. Rebalancing often seems counterintuitive because it can involve selling holdings that are doing well and shifting that money to investments that have underperformed recently, but it’s important to have your investments properly allocated.

HAVE FURTHER QUESTIONS…PLEASE DO NOT HESITATE CONTACTING BRAD OR ANN!!! WE LOOK FORWARD TO ASSISTING YOU IN ANY WAY WE CAN.

About Ann Gunst

Ann Gunst, CFP®/CPA, has a more than a decade of experience in the financial services industry coupled with greater than 12 years experience in financial consulting and accounting. Ask Ann your financial and investment questions!

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