BBB tip: New year, new finances

Wed, 12/29/2021 - 1:30pm

The holiday expenses may be looming on the credit card bill, or perhaps the bank balance is a little lighter from the extra gifts exchanged with family and friends.

If this is the year to reduce debt and bump up the savings account, it's not a bad idea to revisit prior financial goals. 

The current COVID-19 pandemic continues to affect households. People are reassessing retirement timelines, considering where and how they live, and assessing future personal goals in the face of the new omicron variant. Several federal financial programs are coming to an end soon, and employment opportunities vary from one sector to another. As consumers look ahead to the new year, having stable financial footing may become a necessary goal to meet day to day needs.

When thinking about current finances and sticking to a New Year’s Resolution, consider these tips from Better Business Bureau:

Inventory your credit cards. Credit cards are known to have high interest rates, and this can waste a lot of money over time. Reach out to the credit card company to see if a balance transfer offer can be used to switch to a card with a lower rate or ask if the interest rate can be lowered. Research the financial institute where the credit card is held on first. Read the terms and contract very carefully – there may be big penalties if a payment is missed. If you have multiple cards, decide which debt-paying strategy is best for you. Some experts recommend paying off cards with the highest interest rates first. Others recommend paying off cards with the smallest balances first. Additionally, try sending in payments throughout the month. Put the $5 that would have been spent on a morning coffee towards debt instead.

Avoid wasting money on unethical businesses or scams. When making a purchase or choosing a business, check with BBB. Making careful decisions now can save time, money, and headaches later. Research all companies at, and check BBB Scam Tracker regularly to see what scams are happening in your area.

Take advantage of free tools. There are many online tools that can help manage and reduce debt. 

Start budgeting. Creating a written budget and tracking spending is one of the best ways to save money and stop spending more than what is earned. First, figure out how much debt you have; you need an accurate picture before you can figure out your budget. Note the difference between fixed expenses, needs, and wants. If you have debt, include repayment goals in your budget. If possible, factor in retirement and emergency savings. Save money by giving up morning coffee and cooking at home instead of getting takeout. Factor in any alternate income that you can think of, like selling unused items or part-time work in the gig economy.

When possible, shop and use BBB Accredited Businesses who follow BBB's Standards for Trust.