If you picked the money, you're not alone. As we start 2020, many of us are making financial resolutions. Of course, saving more or paying down debt sounds great, but getting started can feel overwhelming. Don't worry -- the Federal Trade Commission has five ideas for things you can do to start the new year off right.
1. Make a budget. Before you set new goals or make changes, it's good to know where you stand. Use this budget worksheet to add up your income for last month and compare it to how much you spent. You might be surprised to see where your dollars are going.
2. Prioritize your debts. Are debt payments dominating your budget? Make a list of your debts and their annual interest rates. The debts with the highest interest rates are costing you the most -- focus on paying those off first.
3. Start small. Look at your budget for areas to cut back. Try starting with one small change, like inviting friends over instead of going out. Put that money to work right away by setting up automatic transfers with your bank or employer, so money goes straight to your savings account.
4. Sign up for alerts. Many banks, creditors, and utility companies offer free alerts and reminders when your balances are low or payments are coming due. These services can help you avoid late fees, overdraft charges, or other unexpected costs.
5. Ask for help. If you're having a financial emergency, don't wait until you've already missed payments. Call your creditors before the due date, explain the situation, and ask about your options. Many companies will work with you to create a repayment plan.
Need more financial tips? Keep an eye out for the FTC's upcoming blog series about credit. Get it straight to your inbox at ftc.gov/subscribe.
For more information on or other family topics, contact Shelly Barnes, family and consumer sciences Extension agent for UT Extension in Wilson County. Barnes may be reached at email@example.com or 615-444-9584.