As the year comes to an end, you might start making resolutions about how you can make next year better, easier—and more financially secure. This is especially important when you live in an exciting but expensive city like L.A.
Our handy guide is here to offer tips and tricks to get 2023 off to a great start, whether you want to save more, spend less, or be more financially savvy across the board. Read on to find out how to get your finances in order.
9 TIPS ON HOW TO GET YOUR FINANCES IN ORDER
Living in L.A. can be tough because rent and housing prices are high. Other living expenses, like food and gas, have been higher lately, too. This means a large chunk of your income goes right out the door the moment it arrives in your checking account.
Here's our list of tips to make your money work harder so you can get your finances in order.
1. Update Your Monthly Budget
Financial checkups are just as important as your annual physical checkup at the doctor. Maybe you keep a budget on a spreadsheet, showing your household income, expenses, and debts. Now is the time to go over all your figures and make sure they're accurate.
- If you don't already have a budget, you should create one as soon as possible!
- If your old budget isn't working, explore different budgeting methods, formats, apps, or tools that may work for you better.
- Identify areas where you can spend less so you can save more. For example, cancel any subscriptions or memberships you don't use.
- Work out how much more income you would like to earn in 2023 and brainstorm how you can find that extra money, like through a side hustle or asking for a raise.
Bonus Tip: While you're going over all your paperwork, also make sure to review (or create!) your will, an estate plan, health care proxy, and power of attorney.
2. Set Specific Savings Targets
We know people who live in L.A. are generally ambitious and goal-oriented. A good tip to help your savings goals is to set a specific target instead of a general hope. Foothill Credit Union offers a range of savings accounts to help get your finances in order.
Specific goals may include:
- Save $50 more a week in your Regular Savings Account or reach $5,000 by June.
- Save $1,000 in a SummerTime Savings account so you can pay for flights to visit Grandma during the summer break.
- Save $3,000 in a Christmas Club Savings account so your 2023 holidays are stress-free.
- Establish a Rainy Day Savings or emergency fund so you don't need to reach for a credit card when something unexpected happens.
3. Open a Certificate Account
Maybe it's time to take your savings to the next level by opening a different type of account with a range of benefits and features you can't get from regular savings options. A Share Certificate Account, also known as a Certificate of Deposit (CD) account, allows you to:
- Watch your money grow over time and earn higher rates for longer terms.
- Is a great option when you have a chunk of money you don't need to use for a while.
4. Open a Money Market Account
Another great option is a Money Market Account. Maybe the name sounds confusing as if you're getting tangled up with the stock markets, but that's not the case!
- With a $1,000 minimum deposit, you can earn higher rates than regular savings so you have more spending money to enjoy everything L.A. has to offer.
- Unlike a Certificate account, you can still easily access your funds with six free withdrawals per month.
5. Open an IRA in Addition to Your 401(k)
An individual retirement account (IRA) is a great way to save for your future, whether or not you have a 401(k) through your employer. It's a good idea to talk to a financial expert if you're not sure about contribution limits, tax advantages, and other features of different retirement options.
- An IRA generally lets you contribute up to $6,000 per year.
- Traditional IRAs let you contribute pre-tax dollars and pay taxes on withdrawals.
- Roth IRAs let you contribute post-tax dollars and make tax-free withdrawals.
- Both types let your deposits grow tax-free!
Bonus Tip: If you have kids, you may also consider opening a Coverdell Education Savings Account before they turn 18 so you can start saving for college or other types of tuition and education-related expenses.
6. Do a Credit Card Balance Transfer to Save on Interest
Maybe you're juggling multiple credit cards with high balances and a confusing range of interest rates. Or maybe you have just one credit card but the annual percentage rate (APR) is much higher than you should be paying.
- A balance transfer lets you move the balance of your credit cards from other lenders and start fresh with a new credit card that offers a lower rate.
- Foothill Credit Union doesn't charge a fee for balance transfers so more of your payments will go to paying down your debt.
- Our credit card rates are often much better than the big banks.
- Decide if you want a rewards credit card so you can earn points on your purchases at your favorite L.A. stores!
7. Use a Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC) to Consolidate Your Debt
A balance transfer might not be the best option if you have a lot of different debts, or if the rate you get on your new credit card isn't a lot better than your old one. Instead, you might want to consider taking out a home equity line of credit (HELOC) to consolidate and pay off your debts.
With a HELOC:
- Get a 3-month low introductory rate.
- Have access to the money whenever you need it for up to 10 years.
- Leverage a higher borrowing capacity than with a personal loan
- An interest-only payment option is available.
- Use the funds to pay off other debt, make home improvements, or anything else you want to use the money for.
8. Use Up Any Financial Benefits That Have an Expiry Date
Maybe you have a flexible spending account (FSA) or a health savings account (HSA). Maybe you just have a free coffee that needs to be claimed by the end of the year.
Whether it's a discount, Air Miles, or annual disbursements from an account, make sure you're not leaving anything sitting on the table that can't be used in 2023!
9. Make a Resolution That Serves Your Wallet Plus a Greater Good
If you dig a little deeper, you may find ways to get your finances in order that are also good for your health, the environment, or other people. For example:
- There may be incentives to install solar panels and insulation or drive an electric vehicle.
- Donations to qualified charities are tax deductible.
- You could quit an expensive habit like smoking, drinking, or gambling – or simply try cooking burgers on the grill at home instead of eating at In-N-Out every Friday
- Learn a new skill so you can save money doing something for yourself like sewing to repair clothes or gardening instead of hiring a service.
CHOOSE THE RIGHT FINANCIAL PARTNER
If you're already a member of Foothill Credit Union, then you know that joining a credit union is one of the simplest ways to get your finances in order. But here's a quick recap in case you still do all your banking at a big bank.
Credit unions are nonprofit, member-owned financial institutions that work in the best interests of the people at the schools, hospitals, and businesses we love to serve in L.A. Our revenue doesn't go to outside shareholders. Instead, we invest in our communities.
You’ll get personal, friendly service from people just like you, who understand what you need and want. Plus, we offer our members:
- Fewer and lower fees
- Lower rates on loans and credit cards
- Great rates on savings and investments
FIND AFFORDABLE ACTIVITIES IN L.A.
Now that you know how to get your finances in order in 2023, it's time to think about how you're going to spend your leisure time. Believe it or not, it's possible to have a great time in L.A. without breaking your budget. Click below to see how you can have fun and achieve your financial goals at the same time!
How to Save Money Living in LA [Without Being Totally Bored