2022 was a costly year due to rising interest rates and inflation pushing up living costs. There is still talk of a recession, so 2023 could be a difficult year for money. Consumers are also worried: NerdWallet’s annual study of household debt found that almost 7 out 10 Americans (69%) have financial worries for the next 12 months.
Even though the new year is likely to be difficult financially, there are still ways you can improve your financial situation. These are five things to keep in mind as we enter a financial uncertain 2023.
1. Double (or more) your minimum payment
NerdWallet’s study found that households with revolving credit cards debt have an average of $7,486. Cardholders must pay the minimum monthly payment to maintain good standing with their credit cards company. However, paying only the minimum amount on this debt can lead to tens of thousands in interest charges and a long time for repayment.
Let’s assume you have the average credit card debt. Your minimum monthly payment would be 2% of your balance, or $25, depending on which is greater. It would take you 40 years to pay this balance off if you used an 18.43% interest rate — which is the average rate charged for accounts that charge interest according to the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. This would cost $21,780 interest.
If you make a double payment, paying either 4% or $50 of your balance, the interest paid drops to $4,226. The repayment period is also reduced to less than nine year. This is still a large amount of money, and it takes a while to make the minimum payment. However, it’s a significant improvement over just making the minimum payments. Your savings will increase if you go beyond the minimum.
The rising interest rates make credit card debt more expensive. Add what you can to the minimum monthly payment in 2023; every little bit will help you save time and money.
2. Buy now or pay later
Popularity of “buy now, and pay later” services is increasing — even for basic necessities. Nearly one in five Americans (18%) used BNPL services within the last 12 months, according to NerdWallet. These services may give you more time to pay your interest-free loans, but they can also cause overextension, which can lead to taking on too many loans at once — which can affect your ability to meet other financial obligations.
If you aren’t able to pay immediately for non-essential purchases, you might consider waiting while you save money. It may be that you are less likely to purchase the item once the money has been saved and the time has passed. You can still buy if you want, and you don’t have to pay any fees.
3. Avoid major purchases
Although a recession has not been officially declared, some experts believe it will occur in 2023. This could lead to income loss, reduced credit limits, harder-to-access credit or stock market volatility. It may be wise to avoid taking on large financial obligations.
Avoid adding to debt and put off large purchases if you can. This will allow you to save more money and prepare you for the 2023 financial storm.
4. Automate your savings
Savings are important in times of economic uncertainty. Having cash can provide much-needed security. Set up an automatic, recurring transfer to your savings account if you don’t save enough money. Experts recommend a minimum of three to six months of expenses for an emergency fund. However, even a small amount of money can be helpful in avoiding debt in the event of an emergency.
5. Get in touch with us for assistance
Many Americans have had a difficult time financially in recent years. According to NerdWallet, 45% of Americans feel their financial situation is worse than before the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s not a shame to need assistance with necessities. There are many programs that may be able help you, such as financial counseling, rental assistance, and legal aid.
Are you unsure where to begin? If you’re experiencing food insecurity, need financial help with housing or utilities, and can’t afford health care, 211.org can help you connect with local resources.