With 2016 underway, you probably have a resolution or two — lose weight, exercise more, finally ditch that one bad habit of yours. While you’re setting goals to have your best year yet, don’t neglect one key aspect of your life: your finances.
Your money situation affects all other areas of your life, yet it can be easy to disregard or put on the back burner. However, if you want to have a prosperous 2016, it’s time to get your finances straight. Here’s a monthly budget calendar to help you get your finances on track this year.
As the new year begins, it’s a good time to create a budget. Maybe you have one already or maybe you’ve never budgeted in your life. Regardless of your status, it’s a new year, with new goals, so it’s time for a new budget.
A budget is essentially a spending plan to help guide where your money goes. In each spending category, you’ll allot a certain amount of money.
Start by listing your fixed expenses, such as rent/mortgage, utilities, insurance, transportation, and food. Then look at your variable expenses such as clothing, entertainment, extra-curricular activities, etc.
A successful budget can help you with two things: spending less than you earn and giving every dollar a job. Isn’t it a good feeling knowing where your money is actually going?
Is your debt repayment on autopilot? Or are you panicking about your debt and have no plan at all? Now is a good time to fine-tune your debt repayment by doing a debt audit.
To start, tally up all of your loans and interest rates. Once you have the numbers in front of you, there are a few things you can do to spruce up your debt repayment plan.
- Sign up for auto-pay. Most lenders offer a 0.25% interest rate deduction for student loan borrowers who opt into automatic payments.
- If you have credit card debt, call up your lender and see if you can lower your interest rate.
- Student loan borrowers can look into consolidation or refinancing to make managing payments easier. Through refinancing, you may be able to get approved for a better rate.
- Borrowers with credit card debt can look into getting a personal loan to consolidate their debt and save money on interest.
- If you can, put more toward your debt repayment than the minimum. Your game plan for this year should be to lower that debt as much as possible. As long as you’re in debt, your money is never truly yours.
This year you are going to become a debt repayment beast! Don’t let that borrowed money boss you around. Show ‘em who’s boss!
Now that you have a plan for your money and a plan of attack to get rid of your debt, it’s time to check your credit health. Why? Because your credit score is one of the most important numbers in your life.
Your credit score affects whether you can get approved for things like student loan refinancing, a car loan, home loan, or even an apartments. You can check your credit scores for free using Credit Karma and get your free credit reports from the three major bureaus at AnnualCreditReport.com.
If you’re concerned about keeping your credit in good health, remember to always make on-time payments and keep your credit utilization low. It’s best to use less than 30 percent of your credit limit or you may be perceived as a risk to your lender.
In April, you might be betting on a sweet tax refund. But while it’s nice to get a refund each year, as it feels like “extra” money, what if that money was disbursed in your paychecks instead?
Imagine what you could do with a little more money each month — pay off debt, put money toward your emergency fund, invest, or even just use it for something fun.
This month look at your tax situation and tax withholding to see if you should receive more income throughout the year instead of waiting until tax day to get money that already belongs to you.
It’s time to spring clean your finances and save some more money before the summer is here. This month, make it your goal to evaluate all of your expenses to see where you can save. Are you not using your gym membership? Cancel it and pocket the savings. Try calling your internet and phone provider to find out about lowering your rates as well.
Essentially, you want to challenge everything. At the end of the month, add up all the money you have saved and either put it toward your debt or put it in a savings account.
It’s time for fun with friends, BBQs, beaches, concerts, and more — which often means an increase in spending. Instead of focusing on pinching pennies, this month focus on getting a side hustle to earn more money.
Some things that you can do this month to start making money right away:
- Become a brand ambassador. This has been my main side hustle and typically pays between $15 to $25 per hour. Essentially, you give out free stuff at fun events like concerts, tournaments, festivals and the like. Look for gigs on Craigslist, EventSpeak, and on Facebook under “Brand Ambassadors of [Your City]”
- Do you have a car and a good driving record? Consider becoming a Lyft or Uber driver.
- If you don’t have a car, but you have a bike, consider becoming a Postmate or renting out your bike on Spinlister.
- Complete various tasks for others on TaskRabbit.
Having a side hustle can earn you a few hundred dollars per month, boost your confidence and enhance your social network.
In July it’s time to focus on celebrating your own Findepedence (financial independence)! Imagine a day when you don’t have to rely on your day job or worry about when your next paycheck is coming. Imagine NOT working until you die and retiring when you want. Sounds like a dream, right?
Through investing and saving for retirement, you can make this a reality — you just have to start. This month, put more toward your retirement. Be sure to contribute to your employer-sponsored 401(k) or IRA, especially if you receive a match.
Consider diversifying and also opening a Roth IRA, which can save you money on taxes later on. In addition, you can open up an investment account with a robo-advisor such as Wealthfront or Betterment to put your money to work. This month create a plan to grow your wealth and be consistent with your contributions.
As the summer comes to a close, it’s time to purge. Go through all of your belongings and commit to getting rid of things you no longer use. If you haven’t used something in six to 12 months, it’s a sign you don’t really need it.
Getting rid of physical clutter can help you feel less mentally cluttered. Not to mention, you could be sitting on a cash pile. You can sell your used items such as clothes, books, movies, appliances, etc. on Craigslist, eBay or by having a garage sale.
Clearing out old items and selling them can help you remove clutter from your life and make a few extra bucks so you can put more money to debt, savings, or fun.
This month focus on September Savings! Setting up a savings plan is so important for your financial well-being. Having money saved up for emergencies can mean the difference between an inconvenience and a crisis.
Saving regularly for your goals can help you stay within budget and get what you want out of life. This month, put your savings on autopilot and allot a certain percentage of your income to be automatically withdrawn from your checking account into a separate savings account.
Ten percent is a good number to shoot for, but if you can, save even more. Putting money away automatically and in a separate account can make it harder to access — which is what you want. Your emergency fund is for emergencies only! Not going on a last-minute vacation.
In addition to saving for an emergency, consider saving for your hobbies and goals through targeted savings accounts. I personally love Capital One 360 and have savings accounts for items such as “Travel,” “Moving Fund,” and “Taxes.”
This month, make sure you have a savings plan in place and make putting away money a priority.
In October, make sure your bases are covered from an insurance perspective. Hopefully you have health insurance through your employer, but if not, it’s time to get coverage during open enrollment.
Search for an affordable health plan that will protect you in case of illness. Make sure you understand what your insurance covers and what your costs are out-of-pocket.
In addition to health insurance, having renter’s insurance can help protect your belongings in case there’s an incident at your apartment or you are the victim of theft.
Life insurance is a must if you have children or are the sole breadwinner in your family. In addition, disability insurance may be a good option. Consider pet insurance to help lower the costs of unexpected vet bills.
This month, go through your insurance and assess what types of insurance you need and get covered. Ask yourself, “can I afford not to be covered?”
If you’re like me, you love going out to eat. I love restaurants, trying different foods, and the experience of hanging out with friends over a good meal. But let’s face it, restaurant spending can be a budget killer. This month, focus on batch cooking at making your meals at home.
Bring a brown bag lunch to work and cook ahead for the week so you have dinner ready for days. For one month, commit to using the extra savings to put toward debt.
December is a great time to give back. You can make your end-of-year contributions to your favorite charities which can serve as tax deductions, helping you out during tax time. Donate what you can and be sure to save your receipts. Giving back is a great way to embrace the holiday spirit while also getting a nice tax deduction.
The new year is a great time to take control of your finances. While you’re focusing on your health and career as well as other resolutions, you can improve your financial situation, too.
Improving your finances might seem daunting, but with this handy monthly budget guide, you can take simple steps each month of the year to rock your finances in 2016. Here’s to your best year yet.
Interested in refinancing student loans?Here are the top 6 lenders of 2019!
|Lender||Variable APR||Eligible Degrees|
|Check out the testimonials and our in-depth reviews!
1 Important Disclosures for SoFi.
2 Important Disclosures for Earnest.
To qualify, you must be a U.S. citizen or possess a 10-year (non-conditional) Permanent Resident Card, reside in a state Earnest lends in, and satisfy our minimum eligibility criteria. You may find more information on loan eligibility here: https://www.earnest.com/eligibility. Not all applicants will be approved for a loan, and not all applicants will qualify for the lowest rate. Approval and interest rate depend on the review of a complete application.
Earnest fixed rate loan rates range from 3.89% APR (with Auto Pay) to 7.89% APR (with Auto Pay). Variable rate loan rates range from 2.50% APR (with Auto Pay) to 7.27% APR (with Auto Pay). For variable rate loans, although the interest rate will vary after you are approved, the interest rate will never exceed 8.95% for loan terms 10 years or less. For loan terms of 10 years to 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 9.95%. For loan terms over 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 11.95% (the maximum rates for these loans). Earnest variable interest rate loans are based on a publicly available index, the one month London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR). Your rate will be calculated each month by adding a margin between 1.82% and 5.50% to the one month LIBOR. The rate will not increase more than once per month. Earnest rate ranges are current as of April 17, 2019, and are subject to change based on market conditions and borrower eligibility.
Auto Pay discount: If you make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic, monthly deduction from a savings or checking account, your rate will be reduced by one quarter of one percent (0.25%) for so long as you continue to make automatic, electronic monthly payments. This benefit is suspended during periods of deferment and forbearance.
The information provided on this page is updated as of 04/17/2019. Earnest reserves the right to change, pause, or terminate product offerings at any time without notice. Earnest loans are originated by Earnest Operations LLC. California Finance Lender License 6054788. NMLS # 1204917. Earnest Operations LLC is located at 302 2nd Street, Suite 401N, San Francisco, CA 94107. Terms and Conditions apply. Visit https://www.earnest.com/terms-of-service, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 888-601-2801 for more information on our student loan refinance product.
© 2018 Earnest LLC. All rights reserved. Earnest LLC and its subsidiaries, including Earnest Operations LLC, are not sponsored by or agencies of the United States of America.
3 Important Disclosures for Laurel Road.
Laurel Road Disclosures
However, if the borrower chooses to make monthly payments automatically by electronic funds transfer (EFT) from a bank account, the fixed rate will decrease by 0.25%, and will increase back up to the regular fixed interest rate described in the preceding paragraph if the borrower stops making (or we stop accepting) monthly payments automatically by EFT from the designated borrower’s bank account.
However, if the borrower chooses to make monthly payments automatically by electronic funds transfer (EFT) from a bank account, the variable rate will decrease by 0.25%, and will increase back up to the regular variable interest rate described in the preceding paragraph if the borrower stops making (or we stop accepting) monthly payments automatically by EFT from the designated borrower’s bank account.
All credit products are subject to credit approval.
Laurel Road began originating student loans in 2013 and has since helped thousands of professionals with undergraduate and postgraduate degrees consolidate and refinance more than $4 billion in federal and private school loans. Laurel Road also offers a suite of online graduate school loan products and personal loans that help simplify lending through customized technology and personalized service. In April 2019, Laurel Road was acquired by KeyBank, one of the nation’s largest bank-based financial services companies. Laurel Road is a brand of KeyBank National Association offering online lending products in all 50 U.S. states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico. All loans are provided by KeyBank National Association, a nationally chartered bank. Member FDIC. For more information, visit www.laurelroad.com.
4 Important Disclosures for LendKey.
Refinancing via LendKey.com is only available for applicants with qualified private education loans from an eligible institution. Loans that were used for exam preparation classes, including, but not limited to, loans for LSAT, MCAT, GMAT, and GRE preparation, are not eligible for refinancing with a lender via LendKey.com. If you currently have any of these exam preparation loans, you should not include them in an application to refinance your student loans on this website. Applicants must be either U.S. citizens or Permanent Residents in an eligible state to qualify for a loan. Certain membership requirements (including the opening of a share account and any applicable association fees in connection with membership) may apply in the event that an applicant wishes to accept a loan offer from a credit union lender. Lenders participating on LendKey.com reserve the right to modify or discontinue the products, terms, and benefits offered on this website at any time without notice. LendKey Technologies, Inc. is not affiliated with, nor does it endorse, any educational institution.
5 Important Disclosures for CommonBond.
Offered terms are subject to change. Loans are offered by CommonBond Lending, LLC (NMLS # 1175900). If you are approved for a loan, the interest rate offered will depend on your credit profile, your application, the loan term selected and will be within the ranges of rates shown.
All Annual Percentage Rates (APRs) displayed assume borrowers enroll in auto pay and account for the 0.25% reduction in interest rate. All variable rates are based on a 1-month LIBOR assumption of 2.49% effective March 10, 2019.
6 Important Disclosures for Citizens Bank.
Citizens Bank Disclosures
|2.50% – 7.27%1||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.50% – 7.12%3||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.81% – 8.79%4||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.50% – 6.65%2||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.55% – 7.12%5||Undergrad & Graduate|
|3.00% – 9.74%6||Undergrad & Graduate|