LINCOLN R.I. (WPRI) — Whether it’s paying down debt or making sure you’re prepared in case you lose your job, your new year’s resolution may be getting your finances in shape.
Donna Sowa Allard, a certified financial planner (CFP) with Sowa Financial Group, Inc., tells 12 News there are a few things you can do to become more “fiscally fit.”
Roughly 140,000 jobs were lost across the nation last month. In Rhode Island, the unemployment rate is 7.3%, according to the most recent data from the Department of Labor and Training.
“If COVID has shown us anything, it’s your income is vital and you don’t know what’s going to happen,” Sowa Allard said.
If you’re looking for better money habits, Sowa Allard said the first step is to build a safety net.
“If you’re working, you want to have between three, ideally six months of your after-tax expenses — so not income, but spending — in cash,” she explained.
A recent study by Fidelity Investments found 38% of Americans say they’re in financial “survival mode” heading into the new year.
If you’re not working, Sowa Allard said to look for extra ways to save.
“If you’re going to get a tax return coming up, you know this quarter, put that aside. Don’t spend it,” she suggested.
If you’re part of the 65% of Americans considering a financial goal for 2021, Sowa Allard advised tackling debt by paying it off quickly.
“Paying interest compounds over time and it can easily get out of control,” she said.
To further get your finances in a good place, she suggested tightening your budget by cutting expenses where you can, and also using extra money like the second stimulus payment or cash gifts from the holidays to pay down debt.
If you’re currently living paycheck-to-paycheck, she said any amount of saving is better than nothing.