New Year’s resolutions present a great opportunity to review your finances and set financial goals for the rest of the year. If you’re not sure what kind of New Year’s resolutions are the best for your money, here are five ideas that can help you save, grow, manage, and protect your money in 2015.

1. Check your credit report

A credit report can help you protect your money, your credit, and your future, so check it this year and every year moving forward. Review it closely to confirm your credit history, remove incorrect information, and catch any suspicious activity that may be an indication identity theft.

Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, consumers can get a free credit report once a year. The three national credit reporting agencies are TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax; the only federally-approved website for free credit reports is www.annualcreditreport.com.

2. Create a budget

A budget will help you manage your money and also instill healthy financial habits. By keeping a budget, you regularly track your cash flow, monitor your spending, and set limits and rules for your money. These are all important skills to learn and exercise.

There isn’t one correct way to budget. That said, we have some tips and ideas for you if you aren’t sure how to start. Ultimately, the right budget for you is the one that you’ll stick to and one that moves you closer to your financial goals as efficiently as possible.

3. Build an emergency fund

You can’t plan when your next emergency will occur but you can have a plan for when it happens. That plan should include an emergency fund to cover unexpected but necessary expenses such as medical bills and car repairs. An emergency fund can help you avoid debt in these situations and give you peace of mind.

Just remember: the emergency fund is for emergencies only! Decide ahead of time what constitutes an emergency and only use the money in the fund for those things.

4. Get out of debt

Getting out of debt is like increasing your income; you’re effectively putting more money in your pocket to spend – or save! – however you like. So in 2015, make a plan to increase your monthly debt payments, or completely pay off a balance before the end of the year. You’ll free up money for other expenses while also saving money on interest by paying your debts off early.

For tips, on lowering debt, check out these debt pay-off plans.

5. Invest

Not only is investing an effective way to increase wealth, but it can make expensive financial goals such as buying a home, paying for college, and preparing for retirement much more feasible. So open an IRA in 2015 or increase your contributions if you already have one. Saving for college? Consider a 529 Plan instead of a savings account.

If you don’t feel like you know enough about investing to do it, resolve to learn more about investing this year. There are plenty of books and online resources to help you get started. If you can’t find the information you’re looking for or if you have questions specific to your financial situation, feel free to send us your investment and other financial questions at www.covenanttrust.com/questions.

Covenant Trust Company is a financial services company owned by the Evangelical Covenant Church and its affiliates. Our services are available to anyone in need of asset management, retirement planning, legacy planning, gift planning, or trust services. In addition, we seek opportunities to encourage and promote healthy financial habits, and keep a personal finance blog at www.covtrustblog.com.

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