Personal finance tips for the New Year

24.01.17
5 minute read
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Struggling with your New Year's Resolutions? Here are some financial-oriented goals you can easily keep well into 2017 and beyond.

Whether you are thinking of how to invest, wondering about becoming your own boss, looking to travel more or give some money to charity - we've pulled together some handy hints to set you on the right road.

Even if you're already saving money on international transfers with TransferWise, these tips will help you line your pockets this year.


Resolution #1: Donate More To Charity (And Get Back Some of That Investment)

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--Sharing is not always caring: If you've noticed when you generously give a donation to one organization, it suddenly seems that every charity in the country is trying to contact you? Be sure that your charity gives you the right to limit their use of your personal info.

--Give securely: When making a credit card donation, first be sure your personal info is protected. The first obvious yet often overlooked step: research that the charity is legit.

--Give to charity to cut your taxes a bit. OK, so you're not really doing something noble here, but if that's what it takes to get a donation made then it’s OK. If a TV station wants to give you a free DVD of your favorite music group AND a tax write-off in exchange for your $250 donation to them, it can be a win-win!

--Stay informed: Be aware that donations to some charities are NOT tax deductible. For another win-win, donate old household items to a place like The Salvation Army or Goodwill: you could receive a greater tax deduction on that old lamp than the profits you’d get for selling it!


Resolution #2: Become Your Own Boss (Without Going Broke)

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--Have a ‘Nest Egg’: Before you make the plunge to freelancing, have at least 6-9 months of money already in a savings account you can tap into only if you really need it.

--Don’t undervalue yourself: When you set an hourly or project rate for clients, keep in mind that (unlike with an office job) you are usually not being paid for that time you secretly watch YouTube videos in the middle of the day. Factor in the extra costs you’ll pay when your home becomes your office, too.

--Spreadsheets are your friend: If you’re juggling several projects at once, it can be hard to keep tabs on when you’ve been paid – or haven’t. Keep a spreadsheet to track this information, including columns tracking the project rate and deadline.

--Keep your data backed up: Without a workplace server it becomes easier to lose or misplace important documents, costing you extra time and money. Use apps such as Carbonite, Dropboxor AeroFS for an easy fix.

--Keep tabs on time: Time is money, especially when freelancing. Keep tabs on how you spend it with apps like OfficeTime and RescueTime. And if you’re the type who’s easily distracted, consider an app that blocks the Internet all together for a bit.

--Save for taxes: With this less pleasant ‘T’ word, it helps to set aside money from gigs every month so you don’t face sticker shock when taxes roll around each year. Also, put all receipts in different folders for different categories of expenses: most work-related freelance expenses are tax-deductible.


Resolution #3: Know the Real Estate Deal (If You Plan To Invest In It)

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--Buy to rent: Look into not only what type of rent you’ll be able to get, but also how much you’ll need to spend on the mortgage, property tax and insurance, maintenance and management. Otherwise you might not make much money (if any at all!)

--More for less time: In a Real Estate Investment Group, the company uses investment funds to buy properties for income, and then you share the profits. This is probably the easiest way to invest: similarly to the stock market, they do the work, and you make some money.

--Flipping: You can buy properties, spend a lil’ money fixing them up, and then reselling at a profit based on increasing the home’s value. First you’ll need to find the right property at the right price, and have some cash to support the renovation.

--Be wary of online Real Estate Groups: These usually involve joining groups or buying computer programs or attending “free seminars” with products being sold. Often the real estate promoter (Donald Trump University being a recent example in the news) makes their money from people paying fees rather than actual investments, and leads to a lot of people losing money or not making any.


Resolution #4: Travel More (And Save in The Process)

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--Use your friend as an ATM: Going to another country? Don't take cash out at a bank or currency exchange - ever! They'll rip you off with bad rates for your cash. Send the money to a friend living in that country with TransferWise and then ask them to withdraw it for you. You could save well over 5% on your travel money - enough for an extra night out at that fancy restaurant.

--There’s an app for that: Sure, there are plenty of apps to track your spending, but few are designed specifically for travelers. That’s where Trail Wallet comes in handy, letting you keep tabs of all your expenses in any currency while on the road. It doesn’t yet exist on Android, but the Track Every Coin app offers similar features.

--Travel like a local: Cook some of your own meals (and receive the ever culturally fascinating experience of the local market), rent a bike or take public transit and use one of the many hospitality exchange sites for affordable accommodation.

--Frequent Flyer Miles: Joining a frequent-flyer program is a necessity for jet-setters. Not only are they free to join, but most allow you to also earn miles with partner airlines (for example, United members also earn miles with Lufthansa). Consider also a FFM credit card: most are free for the first year, and can give you upwards of 30,000 miles – or a roundtrip international flight to many locales in the off-season.


Resolution #5: If you send money internationally, don't use the bank.

TransferWise typically charges just 1% or less - which is much less than your bank.

While your bank uses a bad exchange rate to convert your money - which can cost as much as 5%, on top of the wire fee - TransferWise uses the real rate, with no mark-up at all. So what? Here's what:

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See more about all that here.

Find out more about how much it costs for other currencies at TransferWise.com

TransferWise is the smart, new way to send money abroad.

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