Set yourself up for a financially successful new year.
Whether you've resolved to ask for a raise or to simply do your taxes all by yourself, there are plenty of goals you can set in 2016 to become more financially-savvy. But if you're not sure where to start, or you just want to begin somewhere a little smaller, there are a few stepping-stone resolutions you can make instead. On this week's episode of "Adulthood Made Easy," host and Real Simple editor Sam Zabell spoke to Donna Rosato and Alicia Adamczyk, both editors at MONEY, for tips on making—and keeping—those financial resolutions.
1. Look at your bank statement every week. It sounds simple, but this goal can set you up for success in so many other areas. Once you start looking at your statement on a regular basis, you'll be able to see where your money is going. Are you spending a surprising amount on take-out food or drugstore runs? After you familiarize yourself with your spending patterns, you'll be more aware of your habits and hopefully watch your spending more carefully. What's more, when bills come up, or there's an unfamiliar charge, use the acronym OHIO: Only Handle It Once. This is what Adamczyk lives by: When a bill comes, she pays it right away, so they don't pile up on her counter.
2. Open a separate bank account for savings. The best thing anyone can do is automate their savings, says Rosato. 401(k) plans often allow you to do so, but that only deals with retirement. She suggests opening a bank account that isn't tied to an ATM or credit card, and setting up an automatic withdrawal from your paycheck that will be deposited into that account every month. If you never see the money, you won't miss it (as much). A good rule of thumb: You want your savings account to have three to six months worth of living expenses saved in case of emergency—and don't touch that amount unless an emergency arises.
3. Increase your 401(k) contribution. If you're already contributing to a 401(k), you're on the right track! The best thing to do in 2016 is increase that contribution, ideally to at least the employer matching amount. Many companies offer a match, where they will match your contribution up to a certain percentage, which acts like free money. If you're already at the employer match amount, this resolution still holds—increase it an extra percentage point this year. Saving for retirement is one of the easiest and most important things anyone can do, says Rosato.
For more advice on maintaining these resolutions, listen to the full episode below!