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February 22, 2024
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9 Money Resolutions to Make 2024 Your Best Financial Year Yet

Getting physically fit isn’t the only New Year’s resolution on Americans’ radars this year. About two-thirds are eyeing financial fitness, too. 

According to a recent survey from Fidelity Investments, 35% of consumers say they’re in worse financial shape than they were in 2022, thanks largely to inflation. As a result, 66% of those surveyed are setting financial resolutions for a better 2024 (among Millennials and Gen Zers, it’s a whopping 75%.) 

Top resolutions include saving more, spending less and paying down debt. Are you looking to achieve one of these goals or improve your financial situation in 2024, too? Here are nine resolutions and the tools you’ll need to stick to them:

1. Spend less

Making a budget is a critical first step to nearly any financial goal—but making a plan for your income and expenditures is especially effective if you need to cut back. 

To get started, consider commonly used budgeting strategies such as the 50-30-20 approach or the envelope method (and we actually tested five of them). You can also look at Buy Side from WSJ’s favorite budgeting apps. Our top pick for most people is Monarch, which uses the zero-based budgeting strategy and has a convenient widget-based dashboard you can customize to your liking.

2. Save more—by making your savings work harder

If you still have your savings stored at a traditional bricks-and-mortar bank, it’s a great time to move your funds to a high-yield savings account. Our top pick is the Capital One Performance 360, but it pays to shop around: Rates on the most generous accounts have soared in recent years, with some banks offering APYs of 5% or more. That’s a far cry from the mere 0.46% average offered at most banks and a huge opportunity to cash in on compounding interest. 

I should know: I switched my savings from Chase and Charles Schwab accounts in early 2023, opting for an online account through Marcus instead. The result? A 700% increase in my APY (it even helped pay for my summer vacation). 

Already have a high-yield account? Consider a certificate of deposit, or CD, for funds you won’t need for a bit. With the Federal Reserve poised to lower rates next year, CDs are a great way to lock in today’s high interest rates for a long period—often up to five years. 

3. Set a retirement savings target

By my age, I should apparently have two times my annual salary stowed away for retirement. While I don’t quite have that yet, I now know how much Social Security to expect in retirement, as well as how much I really need to retire comfortably, and can start adding to my IRA more effectively this year. If you’re in a similar, underprepared boat, join me—and make plans to beef up your retirement accounts this year, too (within the IRS limits, of course). You should also look into 401(k) matching options with your employer—especially if you’re currently paying off student loans.

4. Boost your credit score

A good credit score can open doors. Not only can it get you lower rates on mortgages and credit cards, but it can also help you more easily secure a rental property, get a job and find lower insurance premiums, too. If you’re not sure where your credit score currently stands, check it with one of the three credit bureaus—Experian, Equifax and TransUnion. Your bank or credit card issuer may also offer free credit score monitoring.

If your score’s below the “good” range—680 or higher—then start making moves to improve it. This can include lowering your credit utilization ratio to 30% or less, disputing errors on your credit report or making sure to pay your bills on time.

5. Pick a credit card that pays you back

If your credit is good and you’re using a credit card that offers zero perks, you’re doing it wrong. Whether you’re a regular traveler, a business owner, a frequent Amazon shopper, a student or just someone who buys gas each week, there’s a rewards credit card that can give back while you spend. 

And if you just want cash to help pay down your bill each month? The Wells Fargo Active Cash Card is Buy Side’s favorite cash-back card. You’ll get 2% back on all your purchases—plus a $200 bonus if you spend enough in the first three months. However, before adding to your credit card spend, make sure you can pay your bill off in full each month. 

6. Buy a home (or improve your current one) 

Mortgage rates are expected to drop in 2024, so if you’ve been sitting on the sidelines due to 2023’s sky-high rates, next year might be the time to make your move or at least prepare to. Home renovation loans should also be more affordable—and with the right upgrades, you might be able to increase your home’s value, too. Just make sure you shop around if you’re financing a purchase or renovation, as rates can vary quite a bit from one lender to the next.

7. Pay off debt—including student loans

Student loan payments resumed last fall after a several-year break for borrowers, and while the Biden administration has attempted various forgiveness plans in recent years, widespread forgiveness hasn’t come to fruition. Fortunately, there are other options you may be able to explore if you’re dealing with burdensome student loan debt. 

If you have federal loans, you can also get on an income-driven repayment plan, which sets your payment based on your monthly earnings (these can also qualify you for eventual loan forgiveness, as they did for one of our writers.) Another option is consolidating them, which can help you pay less interest and repay your student loans faster

8. Diversify your investments

To protect yourself against downturns in the market, you’ll want to be sure your investment portfolio is well diversified—containing a broad mix of stocks and bonds in different industries and asset classes. So if you’re only investing in one or two sectors right now, make 2024 the year you change things up. Buy gold. Invest in a REIT or ETF, or buy shares in a mutual fund. You can also think about hiring a financial advisor for some one-on-one guidance.

9. Lower your insurance costs

Insurance costs have skyrocketed lately—particularly on home insurance policies, which saw premiums jump as much as 30% in some states last year. While much of that increase is due to rising natural disasters and higher construction costs, you don’t have to take those costs lying down. 

Getting quotes from new insurers can help, as can reducing your coverage, selecting a higher deductible or leveraging discounts—one for security systems or adding hurricane windows, for example. And if you’re just now buying a home, opting for new construction (rather than an existing property) can reduce your insurance costs, too.

Got a money question? Let Buy Side find the answer. Email money@buysidewsj.com.

Include your full name and location, and we may publish your response.

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The advice, recommendations or rankings expressed in this article are those of the Buy Side from WSJ editorial team, and have not been reviewed or endorsed by our commercial partners.

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