Is getting your shit together with money one of your New Year's resolutions?
You know you need to start #adulting, but you may not know where to start. So, I reached out to the top personal finance bloggers for their suggestions of what money goals should make it on your list for 2017.
Here's verdict straight from the pros:
1. Max out your Roth IRA.
If you didn't max out your Roth last year, you're missing out of some serious benefits.
A Roth IRA (individual retirement account) is when you invest after tax dollars into an account through which you do your investing. With a Roth, your money is able to grow tax-free.
If your brain isn't wrapped around this concept yet, do a bit more research. It's very powerful.
What the pros say: Philip Taylor of ptmoney.com says, "Max out your Roth IRA. It's $5,500 for the year, which is $458.33 each month."
2. Pay off debt.
Not only does being debt-free allow you to more easily max out your Roth, it also alleviates a ton of unnecessary stress.
Typically paying off the debt with the smallest balance works best because it gives you fast results and helps you commit to your plan long term.
What the pros say: Jackie Beck of The Debt Myth says, “Commit to only spending money you already have and gradually pay off existing debt. Life is so much less stressful without debt hanging over your head!”
Murray Newlands of Sighted.com says, "A new presidency brings [uncertainty]. Reduce your debts and you will reduce your debt in uncertain times."
3. Be self-aware with money.
We go through life like we go through the grocery store while hungry: rushed, directionless and buying whatever looks good at the time.
This is the year to change that. It all starts with self-awareness.
The best place to start is by keeping a spending log and writing down each and every purchase and transaction that comes from your checking or credit card.
What the pros say: Nick True of Mapped Out Money says,
Become more self-aware with money. Spend six months pondering, tracking, thinking and understanding your personal desires around money and how you emotionally deal with money. The goal should be to become more self-aware of how money emotionally affects you and what expenses are absolutely most important to you.
4. Get a six-month "Oh, Shit" fund.
You always hear a range of three to six months of emergency savings.
So, here's the down-low: If you have a life that is inherently riskier, you need at least six months of savings. If the company you work for notoriously has layoffs, you're working for a startup or even if you just value financial security, you need six months of living expenses.
If you have a life that is inherently riskier, you need at least six months of savings.
What the pros say: Eric Rosenberg of Personal Profitability says,
2017 is the year of the emergency fund! If you don't have enough saved to cover three to six months of expenses, it's time to get saving. The economy is likely going to change in the new year, and with uncertainty comes even more reason to make sure you are safe in case of a loss of income or an unexpected expense like fixing a broken down car or replacing a bad furnace. Get saving!
5. Start with a $1,000 "Oh, Shit" fund.
Does the idea of saving six months scare you? I get it. Remember, this is all about baby steps, so just start with a goal of hitting $1,000 in your savings account. Then start slowly building it up from there.
What the pros say: Kate Dore of Cashville Skyline says,
Building an emergency fund is the primary money goal I am recommending for 2017. Start with $1,000 and work toward saving to three to [six] months of expenses. In 2016, I was hit with an unexpected job layoff. My emergency fund helped me quickly pivot from unemployed to self-employed.
Start with a goal of hitting $1,000 in your savings account. Then start slowly building it up from there.
6. Max out your HSA.
Do your homework on this one.
Health Savings Accounts (HSA) can be great if you have a qualified, high deductible health insurance plan.
If your deductible is a $1,300 or higher (as an individual) you can use an HSA account. It allows you to save money for your health tax-free if you are using it for legitimate healthcare purchases.
In 2017, you'll be able to contribute $3,400 as an individual into an HSA.
What the pros say: Miss Mazuma of MissMazuma.com says, “Max out ALL available accounts – 401k, HSA, Roth IRA, etc.”
Are you seeing a trend here?
This article originally appeared on the author's personal blog.