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Raise your hand if you remember any of the resolutions you made last year at this time. Don’t feel too badly. Most of us don’t remember how determined we were to lose 10 pounds, or cut down on sweets, or go to the gym more regularly. That is why it may be worthwhile for you to bookmark this column and take a look at it from time to time through 2020. This year resolve to take charge of your finances. Here are some of the new resolutions we suggest that may make that a bit easier:

Create a budget: Many people have never developed a household budget. Without a budget, it is never possibly to know exactly how much money is going out each month where it is directed. Start by listing all of your fixed expenses (mortgage, rent, car payment, etc.) and all of your variable expenses (dining out, entertainment, luxury spending, etc.). Compare your expenses to your income to see where you stand. From this you can start streamlining. Maybe you can cut expenses on  your online hopping habit, or plan some evenings in to watch movies rather than going out. Your budget is ground zero for the process of taking control of our personal finances.

Consider a financial app: As long as we are talking budgets, check out one or more of the many financial apps, such as These apps let you create and maintain a budget, keep track of your bills, check on your investments, monitor your credit score and even apply for credit cards and loans. This is a great way to get yourself financially organized and stay that way.

Review your investments: If you are not meeting with your financial advisor at least once a year, you are cheating yourself. Here at JCN Financial and Tax Advisory Group, we conduct regular reviews of our clients’ investments so we can continually implement the best strategies for growth, and keep you fully informed about your finances. Staying a breast of your financial progress is a way to empower yourself to be in charge of your money.

Automate bill paying: If you are still writing checks every month to pay your bills, you may be wasting time. Check out your bank’s online bill paying service. Not only will this save time, but it will ensure that your bills are paid on time every month. Since many banks are still charging check writing fees, and fees for their lobby service, you can avoid this simply doing a one time easy setup to pay everything online.

Get to know HSA and FSA: If this sounds like alphabet soup to you, it’s time to do some homework. HSA stands for Health Savings Account. FSA stand for Flexible Spending Account. Both are tax advantaged accounts for medical expenses. If you have a high deductible health plan, you probably qualify to also have a HSA. If you open the account individually, you can deduct your contributions from your yearly taxes. If you open a HSA through your employer, contributions will probably be withdrawn from your paycheck, before taxes. For 2020, HSA contribution limits are $3,550 for individuals and $7,100 for families.  Contributions to an FSA also come out of your paycheck before taxes, with a catch. You must use the fund before the end of the year, or possibly lose them. Some employers allow you to roll the funds over into another type of account. This year, the FSA contribution limit for an individual is $2750. Click here for more information and the IRS rules that pertain to these types of accounts.

Educate yourself: If you truly resolve to take charge of your finances in 2020, you must be fully informed. Click here to find some of the most popular personal finance books you can add to your personal library. You may not always agree with what some of the authors write, but by reading various perspectives on wealth management, investing, retirement planning and budgeting, you will be better able to make smart decisions for yourself.

Request credit limit increases: Did you know that sometimes a simple phone call to your credit card company can result in an increase in your credit limit? Additionally, if you do not substantially increase your spending, those credit limit increases can boost your credit score. The mighty triumvirate of increasing your credit limit, keeping your credit use low and opening new accounts only when you truly need them can boost your score. Log into your bank’s website and it probably has an easy one click way for you to check your credit score.

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