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It's normal for people to begin to let some of their New Year's resolutions slide right about now. Laurie Hanson, Regional Manager for Merrill Edge, joined Margaret to share simple but important tips to keep financial resolutions on track.
More information about Merrill Edge: Merrill Edge is a streamlined investment service that combines convenience and expertise from both Merrill Lynch and Bank of America to help simplify our financial lives.
According to a 2013 financial literacy survey conducted by the National Foundation of Credit Counseling, 40% of respondents gave themselves a C, D or F grade when asked to rate their knowledge of personal finance.
Here are her tips to keep your financial goals on track:
- Have family financial conversations often. Discuss short- and long-term goals, debts and challenges.
- Create a budget. Make sure it's realistic so you can stick to it. Revisit that budget regularly, especially following life changes like the birth of a child, changes to dependent care needs, or a new job.
- Focus on small tasks. Start by eliminating debt, like credit card balances. Pay more than your monthly minimum and use the credit card wisely. Consider a lower interest rate consolidation option if you carry debt on more than one credit card.
- Meet with a financial professional. Define your goals: maybe it's saving for retirement, a child's education or a down payment on a new car.
- Check out the Better Money Habits website. You can find unbiased, engaging and informative resources at your fingertips, so you can learn what you want in a way that best suits your goals.
Question: How do you divide resources between saving for retirement or other financial needs, like college?
Laurie: If it's a choice between saving for retirement or children's college, you should weigh the importance of your long-term goals. Consider things like the fact that there are financial aid packages and scholarships for education, but not for retirement.
Question: What's one thing we can do that will impact our retirement savings today?
Laurie: Contribute as much as you can to your 2014 retirements avings (401k, IRA) and if you haven't made an IRA contribution in 2013, you can still do this through April 15 and get the deduction for 2013 taxes.