Every January starts the same way.
You track every penny, pack lunches, and delete your favorite delivery app. But somehow, old habits creep back in. Before you know it, your new goals have faded to a distant memory.
There is good news, though.
Even if your money resolutions dissolved, it’s never too late to get back on track. The reason—hear us out on this!—is tax season.
If you’ve already blocked off time to comb through tax forms, why not give your finances a check-up too? If you are convinced, here’s where to begin.
Check your credit reports and score
Credit is one of those sneaky things in life.
It often feels like you are chasing a moving target. You may think you have cracked the code until a small mistake—like a single missed payment—derails your progress.
It may be tempting to ignore, but you might regret it later.
When you want a credit card, the bank takes a look at your credit report. The same goes for your next car loan or insurance policy.
If you ever want to buy a home, your credit score impacts the types of loans you may qualify for. A lower score means a higher monthly payment and paying thousands more over the life of your mortgage.
Dispute errors on your credit reports
As you can see, credit impacts more than one area of your life. If you aren’t sure where you stand, start by pulling your credit reports.
You can access all three—Experian, Equifax, and Transunion—once a year for free through AnnualCreditReport.com.
One in four people have errors on their credit reports that could impact their score.
The best way to make sure you aren’t one of them is by going through each report line-by-line. If you notice anything wrong, dispute it directly with each bureau:
By law, they must investigate your issues within 30 days.
Be persistent. Fixing a mistake could make a big difference if you are trying to boost your score.
Revisit your debt payoff plan
As your credit score improves, it’s a good idea to revisit your debt payoff plan. Regardless of what you are wrestling with, the extra money from your tax refund may come in handy.
For high-interest credit card debt, a higher score may open doors to a faster payoff.
As your score inches higher, you may qualify for balance transfer offers. You may also have access to the lowest interest rate personal loans.
Student loans are a little trickier.
The right payoff plan requires a deeper dive into your income, type of loan, and bigger financial picture. Paying an advisor for their expertise may be well worth the investment.
Reset your savings goals
If you have already paid off all your high-interest debt—congrats! It may be time to rethink your savings goals. An app like Twine makes it easy to select what’s most important to you.
As a couple, you can set joint goals for a vacation, wedding, or new home. Or, you may be ready to beef up your emergency fund.
Big one-time expenses may hinder your progress, but Twine gives you the ability to save for those too. Either way, you can rest easy knowing the power of automation keeps everything on track.
Starting to save is a major financial milestone. How do you know when it’s time to invest?
Before going on a shopping spree with your tax refund, it’s important to consider two things— how long until you need the money and how much risk you are willing and able to take. It’s normal for your needs to shift over time. Set a reminder to revisit your choices every year.
Your timeline and risk will serve as your roadmap.
They will help point to the right percentage of each type of investment you want in your portfolio.
As the market changes, these percentages might drift from your original goals.
You should set an annual reminder to review your portfolio and rebalance as needed.
Mark the calendar for next year
Let’s face it—the day-to-day grind makes it easy to put your finances aside. By setting an annual reminder, you can guarantee you won’t forget.
Best of all, you may find the ritual is enough to keep you motivated until next year’s check-up.