Resolving to manage money better in 2017? Here are some tips

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – Ready to tackle that new year’s resolution to handle your finances better? For many of us, that’s easier said than done.

So what should you keep in mind as January creeps up on your bank account?

Paying down debt, investing wisely, saving enough for the future — it can be a lot to handle, especially on a strict budget. But it’s never too late — or too early — to get started.

“Groceries, pets,” 25-year-old Edwin Thomas listed off from the spreadsheet on his laptop. “And then you can see it has, like, transportation.”

The list goes on and on.

“It’s a reality check of what you spend, you know,” Thomas said. “Me and my husband, we spend a lot and it’s ridiculous.”

He’s finally doing what he should be: figuring out the numbers and making a budget.

“Our goal is to put money in both our savings accounts at the end of every month,” Thomas said.

With student loans coming due in the next year, plans to buy a house and adopt a child, he and his husband Chandler start their new budget Jan. 1.

“I think it’s a popular time to make a change,” Bob Caplan, CEO of River Wealth Advisors in Harrisburg, said.

It’s all good advice: pay down as much debt as you can, follow a budget, prioritize spending, and “make sure that you pay yourself first,” Caplan said. “Make sure you put away as much as you can for the future.”

It’s never too late to start putting money into that 401(k) plan at work. At River Wealth Advisors, the focus as the year draws to a close is re-evaluating other investments.

“It’s a new year and you’re a year older, so how much volatility can you handle now that you’re getting that much closer to retirement?” Caplan said.

Don’t pay too much attention to the stock market’s record highs, he advised. President-elect Donald Trump’s talk looks good for stocks, but if his promises don’t pan out early next year, look for market declines.

So, more importantly, make sure your investments are diversified — stocks vs. bonds and so on.

“I’m just sad that it took me this long to finally start being strict with my spending,” Thomas said.

Caplan also advised trying to do what the first-time budgeter is doing: study up. Make a plan and stick to it.

“I think Chandler and I can do it,” he said. “I hope.”

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