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Making financial improvements in 2019

Getting financially healthy requires setting a budget, reviewing expenses and setting measurable goals, experts say.

Getting financially healthy requires setting a budget, reviewing

Getting financially healthy requires setting a budget, reviewing expenses, and setting measurable goals, experts say. Photo Credit: Getty Images/PeopleImages

If you’re starting to think about New Year’s resolutions, fixing your finances may be near the top of your list.

The Chicago-based firm Center for Financial Services Research Innovation polled more than 5,000 people for its U.S. Financial Health Pulse: 2018 Baseline Survey. The findings were none too encouraging: Just 28 percent of American households are "financially healthy."

What does “healthy” mean? They are in control of their spending, are saving money, don’t have too much debt and are planning for the unforeseen.

Why not set your sights on goals like these for 2019? Here’s how to flip the script in the New Year.

Create a budget

“Start off by taking a look at your finances and getting an understanding of where your money is going. Calculate how much you’re earning and spending and try to find a budget that leaves some money after expenses for savings,” says Joshua Zimmelman, president of Westwood Tax & Consulting in Rockville Centre.

Re-evaluate your expenses

Review your bills. Make sure you’re getting the best possible deals and interest rates. Are you paying too much for utilities or wasting money on extra data on your cellphone plan? Call your credit card company to ask for a lower interest rate, you just might get it.

Set goals

Make specific, measurable goals that you can track. “If you say you want to stress less about money, that is not measurable and specific. What do you need to accomplish so you can stress less?

Do you need to pay off debt, save money or stick to your budget?” says Ashley Patrick, a financial coach who runs budgetsmadeeasy.com.

Then get even more specific. What debt and how much do you want to pay off, or how much do you need to save?

Then: How much do I need to save or make each month to reach that goal?

“The more specific and measurable your goals, the more likely you are to achieve them,” Patrick says.

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