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The year is coming to a close, and there are a lot of things to address before the new year is upon you. One thing that may need some extra attention is your finances. While money shouldn’t be the most important thing in your life, it’s an undeniably necessary aspect of living in society.
The problem is, keeping your finances in good standing is easier said than done. Managing bill payments, spending habits, and debt repayment can seem like a full-time job in itself. If you bring financial baggage with you into the coming year, your New Year’s resolutions will be off to a poor start.
No matter your current financial situation, there are steps you can take to help you end the year on a financial upswing. Here are some things you can try during the last few weeks of the year:
Tips for Financial Upswing
1. Start Beefing Up Your Credit
Your credit score is a vital part of your financial well-being. This number represents, in essence, your financial reputation. Particularly, it shows how willing and able you are to pay back other people’s money.
If you have a low credit score, getting new loans becomes difficult. The loans you can apply for will typically come with high interest rates that are tough to handle. With a higher credit score, you can enjoy lower rates and a greater ability to take out a mortgage or a business loan in the future.
One way you can beef up your credit is by utilizing an online banking platform that offers a credit builder card or similar. Even with a low score, you can typically qualify for one of these cards. That’s because you make a deposit to open up this line of credit, thereby reducing the issuer’s risk. Use this card regularly and make on-time payments, and you’ll see your score start to rise headed into 2023.
2. Knock Out a Debt
Existing debt can be a crushing weight that carries over from year to year. A great goal to set to end 2022 is to finish off one of your debt repayments. Freeing yourself from a debt will open up so many possibilities for 2023.
Realistically, there’s only so much debt you can repay by the end of the year. Set your sights on something reasonable, such as paying off one credit card. If you have a few hundred dollars owed on a high-interest card, make it your goal to get that cleared off by January.
If your debt amount is too large to cover in one go, use stepping-stones to make progress. Instead of trying to pay off the card entirely, make it a goal to raise the amount you pay each month. You’ll start gaining traction on the debt, making the new year a little less stressful.
3. Apply for Aid
There’s no shame in asking for some outside assistance with your finances. Applying for aid can get you the help you need to get your finances back on track. You won’t have to rely on this aid forever, but it can help you escape a dark place when money problems have you down.
For example, you can look to see whether you qualify for the new student loan forgiveness program that is being unrolled. This may help you take control of student debt payments that have limited your budget since graduating from college.
Depending on your situation, you may qualify for other types of aid such as Medicaid or Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits. These can provide short-term relief that can get you out of a pinch if you couple them with efforts to improve your spending habits.
4. Pick Up a Seasonal Job
The end of the year is a busy one for many businesses across the nation. Christmastime, in particular, can get hectic due to a dramatic spike in consumer activity. For that reason, many businesses look to hire some temporary employees to help with the holiday rush.
A seasonal job is a short-term commitment that can net you a bunch of extra cash. Working the extra hours isn’t necessarily fun, but the additional income can put you in a better financial position. Spending your evenings stocking warehouse shelves may be a necessary sacrifice to increase your chances of success in 2023.
The extra money you make can be used to build up your savings, help pay off debt, or make a valuable investment. The additional hours you put in in the final months of the year could mean pinching fewer pennies in the future.
5. Shop Smarter
Speaking of that increase in consumer activity, be careful not to get too caught up in all the shopping excitement. The holiday season has become incredibly commercialized, with thousands of shiny new products going on sale to tempt buyers. If you’re not careful, an ill-considered shopping spree can wring out the remainder of your bank account. That will put you in a tough spot at the turn of the year.
Prevent that sorry fate by imposing a budget on yourself. You might want to buy all kinds of presents for your loved ones, but you need to show some restraint. Set a budget amount for each recipient and do your best to stick to it.
It will be easier to do that if you adopt smart shopping habits as you fill your shopping cart. Compare prices across different stores and websites. Seek out coupons and deals that can save you money. This little bit of extra effort can stretch your dollar out when holiday shopping.
Take a little initiative in fixing your finances now, and you’ll pave the way for a successful new year. You’ll also develop good habits that make it easier to stay on a financial upswing for years to come.