Jan 3, 2022
Stash’s 2022 Financial Checklist
Start the year by prioritizing paying down debt and getting smarter about how you invest.
The new year is a perfect time to reflect on what you’d like to do differently in the coming year, particularly when it comes to your finances.
And 2022 is bound to bring surprises, especially as the economy deals with new variants of Covid-19, surging inflation, and interruptions to supply chains. But there are some things you can prepare for, such as rising interest rates, and the return of student loan payments. Plus, you probably have your own financial goals, such as saving for a new home or car, or increasing what you currently contribute to a retirement or brokerage account.
To help you put your best foot forward this year, Stash has put together this checklist of financial goals.
#1 Pay bills on time, and pay off credit cards.
Paying your bills on time and avoiding credit card debt are key to maintaining your financial health. Timely payments and staying out of debt can help you achieve and maintain a solid credit score. Your credit score is a point-based rating system that assesses how responsible you are with loans and debt over time.
Credit scores run from a low of 300 to a high of 850, which is considered perfect credit. A score of 670 or above is considered good credit. Having good credit can allow you to get loans that can help you advance your financial life.
If you’re starting the new year with some debt, maybe from holiday shopping with a credit card, try to prioritize paying off those bills, since interest rates are expected to increase this year. In December 2021, the Federal Reserve (Fed) said it may raise the federal funds rate, which is the benchmark rate, three times in 2022. The federal funds rate dictates how interest rates on other items, including cars, homes, and more, change. So an increasing benchmark rate can mean higher interest rates on credit card bills. So you’ll want to pay off those bills as quickly as possible.
#2 File your taxes early.
You have to file your taxes every year, but maybe you have a habit of putting off filing until the last minute. This year, try to file as early as you can. Filing early can be especially useful this year, as the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is urging people to file early (and electronically) as they continue to experience disruptions caused by Covid-19.
Before you file your taxes, you need to make sure that you have your paperwork from your employer(s): W-2s for full-time workers, and 1099s for freelance workers. Employers are typically required to provide those forms by February 1, and the IRS usually starts accepting returns around that time. If you file your taxes early, and you’re eligible for a refund, you’re more likely to receive it sooner.
#3 Save for your goals.
You might have struggled with savings in the past, or saving might already be a part of your budget. Try starting off the new year by setting a saving objective for the year, like creating an emergency fund, or putting money away for a down payment on a house. Saving for something specific can motivate you to save regularly.
Stash has a few tools that can help you plan thoughtfully and consistently. With Set Schedule, you can automate and schedule your investments. You can also set up specific buckets for your savings objectives, known as Goals,1 and contribute to them on a schedule.
#4 Get smarter about how you invest.
If you’re investing this year, think about how you can be an (even) smarter investor. Consider diversifying your portfolio. Diversification means spreading your money across multiple investments, industries, and geographies so that you’re not putting all your eggs in one basket. Stash’s diversification analysis tool can provide you with insights on your portfolio, and how you can diversify it.
Another way you can diversify is by setting up a Smart Portfolio, which are brokerage accounts that Stash actively monitors and manages for you, and rebalances each quarter if the portfolio drifts 5% away from its target allocation. You can also get exposure to cryptocurrency, through investments in funds exclusively for people with Smart Portfolios.
As always, follow the Stash Way®, our investing philosophy which includes regular investing, diversification, and investing for the long term. Remember: All investing involves risk and you can lose money in the market.
#5 Make the most of your spending.
Spending is a part of your annual budget. In addition to spending less than you earn, you might want to take stock of which credit or debit cards you’re using to make purchases, and see if you can use cards that earn you rewards. If you use a credit card to make many of your purchases, you might look into one that earns travel points or other rewards.
Another option could be to use a debit card that earns rewards, such as Stash’s Stock-Back® Card.2 This card can be useful if you don’t want to rack up debt, but you still want to earn rewards. With the Stash’s Stock-Back® Card, you can earn a percentage of each of your purchases back as a percentage of stock.3
Whether your goals for the new year are financial or not, good luck with all of your resolutions for 2022.