The end of the year is slowly but surely drawing near, which means that it's time to focus on your finances if you haven't been doing so over the past 10 months. If your goal is to close out the year richer than you started off, here are a few key moves to make right now.
1. Create a budget
Sometimes we don't realize we're wasting money until we see the amount we're throwing away laid out before us on a spreadsheet. And there lies the case for creating a budget. Without one, you might have no idea where your paycheck goes month after month, but once you have that budget in place, you'll be able to more easily identify ways to reduce your spending. From there, you can start cutting corners, thereby freeing up more money to bank.
2. Get yourself a side hustle
Side hustles have grown increasingly common, and the holiday season is the perfect time to snag a second gig and bring in some extra cash in the process. Businesses tend to need more hands on deck as consumer activity really picks up, so if you've been struggling to find the right side hustle thus far, take the opportunity to secure an additional income stream.
3. Negotiate a raise
It's common for raises to kick in once a new year begins, but if you're worthy of an increase beforehand, why force yourself to wait that long? If you've recently completed a major project at work, or taken on additional responsibilities, then it pays to sit your boss down and make the case for a raise. The same holds true if you research salary data for your job title and find that you're being paid less than the typical worker with your qualifications. And if you're hesitant to broach the topic of more money at work, consider this: PayScale reports that 70% of workers who ask for a raise get some sort of bump, while nearly 40% wind up with the exact boost they request.
4. Ramp up your retirement plan contributions
Maybe you've been neglecting your retirement savings and spending your money elsewhere. Or maybe you've been contributing steadily to an IRA or 401(k), but feel you can do better. Either way, boosting your savings rate over the next couple of months is a good way to end 2018 with a lot more money to your name.
Not only will ramping up your contributions increase your nest egg balance, but it'll put more cash in your pocket in the form of tax savings. That's because traditional IRA and 401(k) contributions get to go in tax-free, so for every extra dollar you save in either type of account, you'll shield just a bit more income from the IRS.
Imagine you're able to sock away an extra $1,000 for retirement over the next couple of months. If your effective tax rate is 25%, that'll translate into $250 in tax savings. Talk about a win-win.
Ending the year with more money than you started out with is a respectable goal. Make these moves, and your odds of achieving it will be even higher.