Tips to Improve Your Financial Health in 2017

Your financial well-being is equally important to the traditional “new body, new you” goals that are rampant after the holiday season. Whether you’ve overindulged in food or spent a bit more than intended for gift giving, it’s natural—and healthy—to seek suggestions on how to scale back on the excess. Perhaps you’re headed for retirement and desire to focus on increased savings for the post-work years. Or home buying is slated as your prime objective.

By now the onslaught of New Year’s resolution posts has died down, and all prominent voices in the financial industry have levied their “financial fitness for the new year” advice. Rather than sifting through an endless stream of data on the matter, I’ve curated the top tips for improving your financial health in 2017. The following is applicable for all generations: Boomer, Generation X, Millennial and everyone in between.

Pay Off Credit Cards or Consumer Debt
It’s true that debt can be leveraged to help when you’re in a financial bind—car troubles, sudden health related emergencies and so forth. However, the interest rates are an additional expenditure that slows the process of stashing cash in other, more lucrative places.

Rather than paying the interest rates, that money can be transformed into a financial work partner by placing the amount in savings or, if you’re inclined, an investment portfolio. Certainly, maintaining a healthy credit rating is part of the money management system. Yet, if you’re the type who can’t pass up a sale and whip out your credit card to pay for more stuff, then credit card consolidation is a resolution for you to seriously consider. Pay yourself, not the credit card companies.

Maintaining a Budget Is Crucial
All items on this list lead back to budgeting. It’s easy to become enraptured in the constant stream of subscription entertainment or online instant gratification purchasing. Five-dollar cups of coffee or weekly dinners at your favorite restaurant can be included—though removing them for a month, or three, isn’t exactly deprivation. At the very least, monitor your spending for a week to determine where your money is going. Then begin to scale back on small things within each budgeting category.

Save, Save, Save
Though saving and budgeting are intertwined, this category warrants its own emphasis. While you set up your budget and scale back on the nonessentials in each budget category, make sure that you include a target amount to save per month. Your target savings amount is what you’d need for three to six months of expenses in the event your income stream is disrupted. Yes, it’s that simple. The challenging part will be curbing former spending habits. However, with diligence and focus, you can retrain your brain to stay on course with your intention. Remember intention flows to where our attention goes.

Investment Engagement
As with everything on this list, choosing an investment instrument is a highly personal endeavor. There are plenty to choose from. Every investment opportunity is balanced against a certain amount of calculated risk and given the variety of financial products available, there’s a sector for every risk level. A significant initial financial outlay is not always required to put your money to work for you. Indeed, instead of spending money on your credit card debt or restaurant dining, that money can be what Kevin O’Leary refers to as a soldier you send into battle every day to bring you back your fortune. Even if all you do right now is transfer $50 per month into a savings account, which is a small initial investment step (and you’re investing in yourself, ultimately), then you’re cultivating a habit that can provide far greater security long-term security than that daily $5 latte.