Who knows what 2022 will bring? Good or bad, it is sure to be unpredictable.
Plenty of things will be out of your control in this new year, of course. But you can control your money — how you spend, save and invest.
Check out these ways to bolster your budget, build an emergency fund, manage spending and saving and more.
1. Refinance your mortgage
After years of rock-bottom mortgage rates, costs have started to climb in recent weeks. Some experts are suggesting they could go higher, so you might want to refinance soon.
Moving from your higher rate to a lower one may seem to make perfect sense, but remember, there are fees. Our guidance: Don’t refinance unless you’ll stay in the home at least until you’ve saved more from the lower interest rate than you paid in refinancing fees.
If you’re ready to take the plunge, stop by our Solutions Center and shop and compare mortgage refinance rates.
2. Shop for a higher return on savings
Find a great rate on a new savings account in the Money Talks News’ Solutions Center.
Yes, rates remain low by historical standards. But every extra dime counts, and chances are good that you can find a better rate than what you have now.
3. Open an HSA
A health savings account is a great way to help pay for medical expenses that your health insurance plan doesn’t cover.
You and possibly your employer can contribute pre-tax dollars to an HSA from which you can withdraw funds to spend on qualified medical expenses. Whatever money is not used rolls over to the following year (unlike with a flexible spending account, or FSA).
We explain your HSA options in “3 Ways a Health Savings Account Can Improve Your Finances.” To be eligible you must be enrolled in a high-deductible health insurance plan.
4. Create a budget and stick to it
Are you flying blind with your money? You might be paying bills on time and socking away money into a 401(k). But aside from that, are you spending, buying with credit cards and just hoping there’s enough money left over at the end of the month?
Take control of the situation by using a household budget. It will help you keep track of expenses, investments, savings and spending. We recommend YNAB (You Need A Budget), a budget app that offers a free 34-day trial.
5. Find a side hustle
If you have expertise in a field, another route to adding income is to become a JustAnswer expert, delivering quick answers for readers in certain areas — computer electronics, homework, finance, heavy equipment, appliance repair and home improvement are a few.
We have tips on how to balance your full-time job with a side hustle.
6. Consolidate debt
Owing money on credit cards is a tough psychological and financial burden. At our Solutions Center, we can help you find solid advice about how to start chipping away at that debt.
Soon, you may be consolidating your debts into one monthly payment, drastically lowering your interest rates and eliminating further penalties and fees.
7. Cut your spending on car insurance
Have you checked recently to see if you can get a better rate on your vehicle insurance?
Shopping sounds like a painful bother, it’s true. But that’s changed recently. Comparison shopping for car insurance has become a lot easier with The Zebra, an insurance comparison site. The Zebra delivers instant, real-time comparisons from dozens of trusted insurance providers.
Learn more: “Find Cheaper Car Insurance in Just Minutes.”
8. Find and eliminate recurring charges
It’s easy to add a new subscription service. But after a while it becomes part of the furniture and you don’t realize until months later that you’re spending money on something you don’t use a lot.
An app called Truebill can track down your subscriptions and cancel the ones you don’t use. The basic service is free.
Learn more: “This Tool Can Save You Hundreds on Recurring Costs.”
9. Find a cheaper internet or cable plan
Everyone is online now, and providers are vying for your business. Just because you’ve been with a specific company for years doesn’t mean you’re married to it.
Shop around and find better deals. Also, negotiate with your current provider, try to bundle services and set up auto-pay. Your company may reduce your bill a good bit if you do.
10. Buy life insurance
It’s never fun to contemplate death, but if you have dependents or a family, life insurance may be crucial. Especially if you’re the primary breadwinner.
There is a variety of products, though. Which is right for you? In fact, life insurance is not necessarily for everyone. To clear up the confusion, Money Talks News founder Stacy Johnson discusses “Which Is Better: Term or Whole Life Insurance?”
11. Invest in a smart device
Technological innovation is so deeply integrated into our daily activities that we might as well use it to save money. A few ideas:
- “5 Smart Home Devices That Are Definitely Worth the Money” tells how you can install a smart lighting system to control brightness, temperature and even color.
- A smart thermostat, controllable by voice or phone, can save money by ensuring that your home is heated and cooled efficiently.
- Programmable power strips that you can set to shut off devices at the source help lower energy bills.
12. Max out your 401(k)
This tried-and-true retirement money booster improves in 2022, with the maximum yearly contribution increasing $1,000 for a total of $20,500.
If you are over 50, you also can also set aside $6,500 in “catch-up” contributions, which the IRS lets older workers make to beef up their accounts.
13. Build, boost your emergency fund
The coronavirus pandemic taught many of us that having spare funds is essential to coping with job loss, hours reductions and other financial hits.
In “9 Tips for Starting an Emergency Fund Today,” we have advice on how to jumpstart your emergency account, including:
- Selling some of your excess stuff
- Taking overtime work at your job if it’s available
- Saving (not spending) your tax refund
14. Update your W-4
Taxpayers may have a shock if they find that the amount of their federal withholding isn’t enough to pay their IRS bill.
You can head off next year’s shock by adjusting your withholding allowances now. The IRS’ Tax Withholding Estimator helps you figure out how much to have your employer withhold from paychecks so it will be enough to cover your tax liability.
15. Create a net worth statement
A statement of your net worth is a simple snapshot of where you stand financially at any moment and reveals your assets and liabilities.
A periodic refresh of your net worth statement shows if you are on the right track with retirement planning. The federal government offers tips on how to do it.