With the New Year quickly approaching, many people have probably already resolved to make the New Year a more financially stable one than years past. With the aftershocks of the recession still rattling the foundation of many Americans, financial stability is now more than ever a requirement more so than a want. For many Americans, the coming year is a make or break time period and they will have to make tough decisions to insure the financial viability of not only themselves but also, their families. With all that said, here are sure ways to stabilize you finance in 2011.
Minimize Credit Card Debt
This is an old American battle that has been going on for decades. So, if you’re in the category of people who have a mountain of debt in this area, don’t feel alone. Stop making minimum payments. As a good rule of thumb, try to make payments that are three to five times larger than your required minimum payment and throw any income in excess of what you’ve budgeted at this monster. Credit card debt is a major killer of individual American financial stability.
Evaluate Your Utilities
Many Americans are getting rid of excess services in their homes to create excess cash. Some people are paying over $1,000 a year for home phone service and over another $1,000 per year for cable. Do you need a home phone if everyone has a cell phone? Don’t stop there. There are many alternatives to cable TV. Satellite companies are offering packages that are as low as $25 per month. Evaluate your cell phone plans, also. Many of the pay as you go companies are now going national with all inclusive rates that are far cheaper than the major carriers. Look at cheaper options for internet service, garbage disposal and home security as well.
Do you have the cheapest home owners or car insurance companies? Insurance companies are battling for your business because the economy has hit them just like everyone else. Shop around and get quotes and call your insurance company and let them know that if they can’t beat the quotes you’re going to drop them. Make them earn your business.
Refinance Your Home or Renegotiate Your Lease
If you’re a homeowner that hasn’t taken advantage of the low rates and loan modification programs, get working on it immediately. I have seen mortgage payments dropping by as much as 25% as a result these programs. If you’re a renter, talk to your landlord about renegotiating your lease. You can wait to your lease term is up or talk to them in the middle. Many large volume renters are suffering right now and don’t want to lose a tenant.
Create an Aggressive Financial Budget
Sit down and calculate your monthly income and required monthly expenses (going out for steak twice a week is not a requirement). After doing this allocate an aggressive percentage of the excess cash to a savings or investment plan that you will not touch. Be sure to include a percentage towards miscellaneous expenses and each month all the miscellaneous funds that aren’t used should be added to the investment or savings portfolio. Don’t cross months. When you run out of entertainment funds for the month make that the end of entertainment. You have to be disciplined and focused to regain your financial stability.