12 Personal Finance To-Do’s for 2011

Believe it or not, 2010 has come and gone. As we begin to adjust to 2011, it’s almost tradition to reflect on last year and think about how we can improve ourselves in the next 365 days.

Aside from vowing to eat less carbs or visit your in-laws more often, have you considered personal finance resolutions? We suggest you try out our 12 “To-Dos” to help your finances flourish in 2011. Let the countown begin!

12. Have a rainy day fund. Start putting away $50 a month into a bank account that you don’t touch. Have it auto-withdrawal if that helps. When you really run into hard times, that’s when you have something set aside to pull from. Plus, you’ll barely miss $50 a month if it’s automatic. Another strategy is to round up on all credit card transactions and put away what you round up. The average person would put away $30 a month this way, and you’ll never miss the pennies.

11. Consider changing to a more fee-friendly bank or credit union. You’ll save hundreds of dollars a year by ditching the fees.

10. Use cash. If you have to go out of your way to hit the ATM for more money, you’ll think twice about spending.

9. Do some freelance work on the side. If you have a passion for teaching, tutor online either at night or on the weekends. If you know how to knit, try selling some of your creations on Etsy.com. Why not utilize your hobbies to fuel extra income?

8. Use online bill pay. Many people still write out checks every month. With online bill pay being offered for free from just about all banks and credit unions, there’s really no reason not to do it. Plus you’ll save money on stamps.

7. Save up for big purchases instead of paying them off. You’ll have a goal to work towards with a big reward at the end. Paying off a monthly fee is never rewarding.

6. Pay off high interest credit cards. One of the easiest ways to get into debt is by charging way more than you can afford on credit cards. Pay these off as fast as you can.

5. Don’t wait to start saving for your retirement. Start putting away money now (or as early as possible) into long-term investment vehicles like 401ks and IRAs. If you don’t know a lot about investing, talk to a financial advisor to get professional advice on what works best for you.

4. Openly discuss finances with your significant other. Do this often to ensure you’re on the same page. It’s a huge cause of relationship strain when couples aren’t financially open and honest with each other.

3. Get social. You need to be on LinkedIn. And it’s not enough to just create an account. Do it all. This is the first step on your way towards personal branding. If you want to succeed in today’s economy, this is step one. Resumes and job boards just don’t cut it anymore.

2. Refinance your car. Most people have no idea that you can, but that’s one of the easiest things you can do to lower your monthly expenses. MoneyAisle.com is the best place to do it. It’s always free, and many times takes less than a few days to complete, all without ever visiting a lender!

1. The final “to-do” is to take stock in you. Many people become bogged down in their routine that they never look up and smell the roses. You’ll work harder and better if you’re happier, so if you’re not happy doing what you’re currently doing, don’t be afraid to make a change. Everyone in your life will thank you for it!

You don’t have to try all of these ideas to improve your finances. If you start with the low hanging fruit, you can work towards accomplishing more and more of these goals over the next few years. 2011 has only just begun, so start checking off these “to-dos” today and watch as your financial troubles become so last year.