This Is the Most Important Financial Move to Make in 2023

Many or all of the products here are from our partners that compensate us. It’s how we make money. But our editorial integrity ensures our experts’ opinions aren’t influenced by compensation. Terms may apply to offers listed on this page.


  • The start of a new year is a great time to make positive financial changes.
  • One key move could help you avoid debt and attain more financial security.
  • Building an emergency fund is the most important thing you can do for yourself in 2023. 

Tackle this task before any other financial matter.

If you're hoping to take advantage of the new year by getting your financial house in order, good for you. January is a great time to focus on improving your finances, and that way, you'll have a full 12 months ahead of you to meet your goals for the year. But while you may have different financial items you want to tackle in 2023, this one move should take priority over all others.

Build yourself a financial safety net

Financial experts have been warning for much of the second half of 2022 that a recession could strike in 2023. If that were to happen, it could result in a massive uptick in unemployment claims. And that could put a lot of people in a tough financial position.

That's why the most important financial move you can make in 2023 is to build yourself an emergency fund, or boost your existing savings. Ideally, you want enough money in your savings account to cover a minimum of three months of essential expenses -- and that's really the minimum. For better protection, it pays to have enough money in your savings to cover six months of bills, or even more. 

Now you may be thinking, "I have credit card debt. Shouldn't I focus on paying that off first, and then work on my emergency savings?"

Paying off credit card debt is a great goal, and an important one, too. The sooner you pay off your credit cards, the less money you'll lose to interest. 

But here's why building an emergency fund should still come first. If you don't have money in savings to fall back on and you find yourself out of a job, or with an unplanned expense on your hands, you'll put yourself in the position of having to rack up more debt. And at that point, it might be more expensive to borrow than it was when you took on the credit card debt you're paying off now. 

So all told, you should make your emergency fund your first priority, even if you have other worthwhile goals you're hoping to achieve in 2023, like starting to fund a retirement plan or paying off your car. This isn't to say you should cross your other goals off your list. Rather, build or grow that emergency fund first, and then focus on tackling the remaining items on your list.

You always need protection

If you're convinced the recent recession warnings have been overblown, then you may not be so motivated to focus on your emergency fund in 2023. But remember, there doesn't have to be a widespread economic crisis for your savings to come in handy. You could lose your job even at a time when the broad economy is doing just fine. And you never know when you might run into a home or car repair out of nowhere. 

That's why you should prioritize your emergency fund regardless of how economic conditions play out. There's a chance the economy won't tank in 2023, but that doesn't let you off the hook when it comes to building savings.

Alert: our top-rated cash back card now has 0% intro APR until 2025

This credit card is not just good – it’s so exceptional that our experts use it personally. It features a lengthy 0% intro APR period, a cash back rate of up to 5%, and all somehow for no annual fee! Click here to read our full review for free and apply in just 2 minutes.

Our Research Expert

Related Articles

View All Articles Learn More Link Arrow