© 2024 KRCU Public Radio
90.9 Cape Girardeau | 88.9-HD Ste. Genevieve | 88.7 Poplar Bluff
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
Every week, join Sydney Waters as she helps you navigate life as a smart consumer. You'll cover everything in avoiding the latest scams, including phishing emails, medical equipment fraud, understanding layaway, hiring a reputable tax preparer, and even digital spring cleaning. Add to your toolbox and flip through your Consumer Handbook Thursdays during NPR’s Morning Edition at 6:42 a.m. and 8:42 a.m., only on KRCU.

Consumer Handbook: Financial Tips for the New Year

2024 Goal, Plan, Action checklist text on note pad with laptop, glasses and pen.
yusnizam/Getty Images
2024 Goal, Plan, Action checklist text on note pad with laptop, glasses and pen.

Better Business Bureau reminds consumers to do a pulse check on their financial health and safety in the New Year.

Over 2/3 of Americans likely made 2024 New Year’s resolutions related to personal finance, according to Fidelity Investments’ 2024 New Year’s Financial Resolutions Study.

The study states that many Americans feel inflation made it harder for them to stick to their 2023 financial goals – 92% of respondents said they will change their approach in 2024 in light of the past couple years.

It's clear that many are hoping for a fresh start in 2024. Top resolutions included saving more money (41%), paying down debt (38%) and spending less money (30%).

“The New Year is a great time to check your financial health. Ask yourself how you can be smarter – and safer – with your finances,” said Michelle L. Corey, BBB St. Louis president and CEO. “BBB’s tips can help you make wise purchasing decisions and avoid losing money to scams or unethical businesses in 2024.”

BBB’s financial tips for the New Year:

Make a new budget. Tracking your spending with a budget is one of the best ways to save money and reduce debt. Budgeting looks different for everyone, but a good first step is to figure out how much debt you have and set repayment goals. Then, determine your fixed expenses, needs and wants, and make sure these don’t exceed your income. (Consider alternative income, like selling unused items or part-time work in the gig economy.) If possible, set aside part of your income for retirement and emergency savings.

Take advantage of free tools. Many online tools, like budgeting apps and debt reduction software, can help you manage and reduce debt. Your financial institution may also have budgeting tools you can use.

Inventory your credit cards. Credit cards have high interest rates, which can be a drag on your budget over time. Reach out to your credit card company to ask if your interest rate can be lowered or if you can leverage a balance transfer offer to switch to a card with a lower rate. If you’re signing up for a new credit card, research the company first. Read the terms and contract carefully – there may be big penalties if you miss a payment.

● Make a plan to pay down credit card debt. Some experts recommend paying off cards with the highest interest rates first. Others recommend paying off cards with the smallest balances first. Determine what makes the most sense for you and your budget. Try making small payments throughout the month – for example, put the $5 you would have spent on a coffee towards debt instead.

Inventory your subscriptions. Monthly subscriptions can be a good place to cut costs. Some use negative-option sales tactics, which means you are charged for a service if you don’t opt out – and those costs can sneak up on you.

Avoid wasting money on unethical businesses or scams. Check with BBB before making a purchase or choosing a business. Making careful decisions now can save time, money, and headaches later. Research all companies at BBB.org, and check BBB Scam Tracker regularly to see what scams are happening in your area.

For more financial tips, check out BBB’s Money HQ.

Have another resolution you need help with? Try BBB’s New Year’s Guide.

Sydney Waters is the new Regional Director of Better Business Bureau in Cape Girardeau and responsible for outreach efforts in Southern Illinois and Eastern and Southwest Missouri.