Five Smart Moves for Your Financial Future

Looking to get your finances on track? Here are five smart financial moves that will help you plan for your financial future.

1. Merge your credit card debt.

Credit card debt, if you have it, is likely your most costly form of debt, thanks to high and variable interest rates. You can help lower your payments by consolidating your credit card debt with a personal loan. These loans generally range from $1,000 to $100,000 with typical repayment in two to seven years. And the best news: The average credit card interest rate today is around 15% vs. around 5% for a personal loan.

2. Pay down debt with your tax refund. 

While you may be tempted to use your tax refund to splurge on something shiny, a better use of that money may be to repay debt.

3. Get a side gig. 

Working a bit on the side can improve your income and help you pay off debt. Anyone can do it. Just think about your skills and hobbies. From web design to carpentry, tax returns to retail, and even selling handmade goods on Etsy, you can monetize your talents. You might be surprised how much you can make even delivering pizzas a few nights a week.

4. Build an emergency fund. 

You should have six months of daily expenses saved in an emergency fund. If you don’t, an unforeseen medical expense, home repair, or unemployment could destroy you financially. Make sure you keep the emerging funds in a separate bank account from your living expenses to ensure you aren’t tempted to tap them before they’re needed.

5. Improve your credit score. 

To access lower interest rates, you will need a solid credit score. FICO credit scores, among the most frequently used, range from 350 to 800 (the higher, the better).

How can you raise your score? Make on-time payments, improve your debt-to-income ratio by increasing your income, and manage your credit utilization.

What Should Your Next Financial Investment Be?

Are you wondering where to get started with investing or what your next investment should be? Here are answers to three common financial planning questions.

I didn’t start saving for retirement until later in life. Will I ever recover? If you waited until your 30s or beyond to start saving for retirement, you missed out on some valuable time. But hope is not lost. Start now, and put at least enough money into your 401(k) plan to maximize your employer match. If you don’t have a 401(k) plan, look into an IRA and/or a brokerage account. Then work with a financial professional to ensure that your assets are allocated in the best manner possible to meet your goals while adhering to your risk tolerance.

Should I invest in cryptocurrency? We can’t speak for everyone, but it is generally a good idea to avoid the latest investment trends, such as cryptocurrency. Trendy markets are risky markets with high volatility.

What insurance do I really need? Other than the obvious, health insurance, you may want to consider life insurance and renter’s insurance (unless you own your home, in which case your mortgage lender will require homeowner’s insurance). Life insurance isn’t just for married couples with children, and renter’s insurance will protect your belongings in case something happens to your home that’s not your fault, such as a burglary or fire. You may also want to consider disability insurance if you don’t have it through your employer. If you cannot work due to illness or injury, it will cover your expenses while you either wait to get back to your job or wait to get on permanent disability.