At the same time that Americans are feeling the financial pinch of the holidays, they’re gearing up for 2020, with their top two goals being to save more and increase their credit scores, according to a national consumer survey by Experian.
Almost three out of four consumers surveyed are motivated to improve their finances. To reach their New Year goals, survey respondents say they’ll spend less money to improve their credit score (59%) and pay off credit card debt (58%).
To help get you started, Experian Boost ambassador, actor and financial empowerment activist, Hill Harper is providing these money tips:
• Create a Financial Blueprint: The first step is to create a blueprint identifying your money, saving and investing goals. Examine your priorities and determine how much money you require to meet your basic needs. From there, you should assess what else you need to be happy and how you can use money as a resource to achieve it.
• Assess the Cost of Being You: If your expenses or debt outpace your income, then it’s very difficult to live the best version of your life. Rather than continuously playing catch-up, track your spending to discover new ways to reduce monthly expenses. Apply those savings towards self-investment.
• Understand Smart vs. Dumb Money: Not all dollars spent hold the same value. Knowing the difference between “smart” and “dumb” money is key to building a solid financial foundation, according to Harper, who says that “dumb money” is spending on things like credit card interest or items that lose value quickly, whereas “smart money” is spending on things that pay dividends, like an education or home.
• Control Your Credit Score: A good credit score can help you gain access to capital with better terms at affordable rates. To improve it, pay bills on time and use a resource like Experian Boost, which is a free online tool that allows you to add positive payment history from utility and telecom bills to your Experian credit file, which can increase your score instantly.
• New Year, New You: “We’re starting a new decade and what better opportunity is there to do a complete financial makeover?” says Harper, who recommends many other steps that will set you up for financial success, including building an emergency fund, securing health insurance, avoiding debt for unnecessary purchases and investing wisely.
“No one has a crystal ball, but given lower unemployment rates and low interest rates, 2020 could be a good year to have a plan for growth. A diversified portfolio for this next decade is a good portfolio,” says Harper. More tips from Harper can be found at www.experian.com/education.
While managing finances can seem intimidating, identifying trouble spots is the first step toward conquering your goals.