Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : January 11th 2015 Contents JANUARY 11 • 2015 www.guardian.co.tt SUNDAY BUSINESS GUARDIAN
FINANCE | SBG13
For many of us, the new year signals a fresh
start and new beginnings, especially with our
finances. Whether you're paying off holiday debt
or vowing to reach financial goals this year, here
are six easy approaches designed to help you save
more, spend smarter and put more money back
in your pocket in 2015.
Automate your finances. Set up your finances
so that money is taken straight from your paycheck
and deposited directly into your savings account
or a retirement savings account. You can also set
up your fixed bills like your Internet and cable to
be automatically deducted from your checking
account. Automate your finances to save time and
prevent overspending. If you see extra money in
your account, chances are you'll find a way to
spend it, leaving you little to invest in your future.
Automation helps keep your priorities in line so
that as money comes in, it is dispersed to your
other accounts immediately.
Cut back. At least twice a year, look at your
expenses line by line and see if you're getting the
most bang for your buck. For example, do you
read the magazines you subscribe to or maximise
that gym membership? If the answer is "no," con-
sider canceling or negotiating a better rate. Take
that money you save, and apply it toward bigger
payoffs like debt reduction, retirement or an emer-
Get rewards. Lots of people use debit cards
to make it easy to buy and budget for groceries,
gas and other routine purchases. Instead of doing
that, look into a credit card with a great rewards
program for those daily purchases, and set it up
to automatically pay the statement balance from
your checking account each month.
Over the course of the year, you could potentially
pocket a few extra hundred dollars just by using
a card with a good rewards program instead of
your ordinary debit card (just make sure you're
paying off your credit card every month, so you
don't pay extra in interest).
Boost your income. If you love your job and
want to grow your career, it's time to think about
boosting your income as well. Make it a goal to
negotiate a raise this year. Consider your strengths
and look at the value you've provided to your
company over the last six months to a year, and
discuss it during a performance review. This can
feel intimidating, but it never hurts to ask.
Get a side gig. Take advantage of your skills,
or turn a hobby into profit. Doing so can help you
generate extra income; which you can put toward
reaching your financial goals. These types of side
gigs will allow you to earn extra income while also
growing your skills.
Track your progress. You can't save money
if you don't know where your money is going.
Every month, track your net worth using a personal
finance tool or app that will show you exactly
where your money is going.
This will make you think about your entire
financial picture from income and expenses to
investments and taxes. With this focus, you can
ultimately make the greatest impact on your
finances in 2015.
Somewhere nestled between
your resolution to lose 20
pounds and the one to
finally clean out your closet
is probably a resolution to
organise your home
office/study. If you're staring at piles of
paperwork and wondering what's safe to
destroy and what you should hang onto,
here are some guidelines.
KEEP: tax returns. Save your returns
for at least the past three years, and maybe
If you file your return on time every year,
then you would need the records for 2014,
2013, 2012 and 2011.
In other words, unless your taxes are
simple and you know that there's no chance
of serious errors, you might as well hang
onto your tax returns for at least a decade
SHRED: most receipts. Plenty of receipts
can just be tossed in the trash rather than
jammed in a shredder or ripped into pieces.
But ideally, and if you're methodical about
your finances, you'll keep all of your receipts
for about a month before discarding them.
"For bank account, ATM and credit card
transactions, I recommend holding onto
the receipts until the transactions are
reflected on your statement. You can rec-
oncile your statement against your receipts,
and if reflected properly, then you can go
ahead and shred the receipts," says Melinda
Kibler, a certified financial planner in Fort
Lauderdale, Florida, with Palisades Hudson
But there are exceptions. For instance,
if you've purchased something big enough
to insure, like a wedding ring, hang onto
KEEP: investment records. Not forever,
but retain them at least as long as you
own the investment, says Jake Loescher,
a financial adviser at Savant Capital Man-
agement in Rockford, Illinois.
"Until you sell the fund, stock, bond or
other security, it will be helpful to maintain
these records to determine gain or loss
upon sale, which ultimately determines
the tax ramifications," he says.
Of course, you may not need to keep
paper copies of your investment records
if your brokerage firm allows you to log
into your account and view them elec-
tronically. Still, Loescher recommends,
"Before you start trashing all these records,
check with your various companies to see
if these copies can be accessed electron-
SHRED: some of your junk mail. As if
junk mail isn't annoying enough, you
should destroy some of it rather than toss-
ing it in the trash or recycling bin, says
Brian Berson, founder and CEO of FileThis
Inc, an app that finds and organises per-
sonal documents from your computer and
some mobile devices. In particular, Berson
recommends shredding preapproved credit
Otherwise, typical junk mail can go into
the round file as usual.
KEEP: pay stubs. Like receipts, whether
you keep pay stubs depends on your per-
sonality. Some people trust that the system
involving employer, payroll company and
usually, it does.
But if you don't receive your checks via
direct deposit, keep those pay stubs around
for a year, Loescher suggests. "It's helpful
to double-check your total income received
on a pay-period basis against the income
reported to the IRS on your annual W-2,"
SHRED: bills. There are some exceptions,
Loescher says. If you're running a business
out of your home, you may need the bills
for tax purposes. Otherwise, you don't need
to keep these once they're paid. Just remem-
ber to shred them so some enterprising
identity thief won't happen upon them.
KEEP: mortgage-related papers. Bought
a house? All of the paperwork you received
at closing should live at your home, too.
"Any documents related to property you
have purchased, including loan documen-
tation, should be kept until you no longer
own the property," Kibler says.
And remember how there are exceptions
to tossing receipts? Home improvement
receipts are ones you should keep, Kibler
and Loescher say. Someday you may want
to show them to a potential homebuyer.
SHRED: digital media. Don't forget your
old laptop or the smartphone you're replac-
ing; those devices can have just as much
important, financially attractive information
to a criminal as your paperwork. You can't
push an old computer through a personal
shredder, but Berson says you could hire a
professional service to destroy your old
"These days, some shredding services can
destroy digital media," he says.
You could, of course, use a hammer to
mangle the device enough to discourage an
identity thief from extricating your personal
information, but using an electronic product
recycling service is the more environmentally
responsible way to go. It just isn't as much
Easy ways to
money in your
pocket in 2015
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