Between the gifts, parties, and other obligations of the holiday season, it might seem like smarter financial choices will have to wait. But just because you’re spending a little more than usual doesn’t mean you can’t put your financial planning into sharper focus. To help you get started, here are the best financial gifts you can give yourself this holiday season to prepare for a great 2020 and beyond, presented by Discover and Mental Floss. There are small steps you can take immediately to give your finances a boost, like using the Discover it card, which rewards you on every purchase you make with the card. And then there’s long-term planning, like retirement funds, that will help solidify your financial future.
1. Learn how to budget your money.
Plenty of people set spending limits on home expenses, entertainment, clothing, and other expenditures. But sometimes, these amounts need adjusting, especially as life and financial situations change over time. Consider sitting down at the end of the month and examining where all of your money went—from there you can spot unnecessary spending and find ways to fix it.
2. Take advantage of your credit card rewards.
Cash back, mileage, or promotional interest offers—credit cards offer a variety of incentives, but not everyone takes the time to analyze the offers. Don’t let free money pass you by—look into what rewards programs your card offers and take advantage of these financial gifts that are just waiting for you. With the Discover it card, for example, you can earn rewards on every purchase you make. Plus, Discover matches all the cash back you earn at the end of your first year! It’s unlimited, too, so those weekly coffees you’re trying to fit into your budget can be paid for by money you’ve already earned. Learn more at Discover.com/match.
3. Evaluate your insurance coverage.
Some of us secure home or car insurance and then never think about it again. It’s better to assess your coverage periodically to make sure you’re financially protected for things that are important and consider gap coverage if your policy is lacking. It’s better to spend a little more in policy premiums now than be hit with an unforeseen hardship later. Alternately, you might find your premiums can be lowered owing to a new home improvement project, like new water pipes or an updated roof.
4. Start a retirement plan.
Don’t fall into the trap of putting off retirement savings until you snag a salary increase or reduce expenses. Every year you fail to feed a 401(k), IRA, Roth IRA, or other nest egg means one less year you’ll accrue in your pursuit of saving for life after work. Remember that your employer may offer matching and tax-deferred options for diverting some of your income. Don’t wait for the “perfect” time to learn how to start a retirement fund—the sooner, the better.
5. Save for big purchases.
It can be hard to save money—it involves careful planning, a realistic strategy, and most importantly, cutting back a bit. But the benefits far outweigh the negatives. So if you don’t have one already, set up a savings account this holiday season and start putting some money away every month. It doesn’t even have to be you that does it—ask your bank or employer’s payroll department if they can set up an automated process to save the money for you. So next time you have your eye on a big trip or want to buy a new 4K television, you’ll have a nest egg waiting to pay for it. And big purchases lead to big cashback bonuses, so be sure to take advantage whenever you can.
You can take one step to financial stability with the Discover it® Card—which automatically matches all the cash back you earn, dollar for dollar, at the end of your first year. Learn more at Discover.com/match.