HELOC vs. Cash-Out Refinance: What’s the Difference?

With every mortgage payment you make, you’re building equity in your home. And equity equals ownership. Once you’ve built up a significant amount of equity, you’re able to access that money and use the funds for any purpose you wish. How you access your home’s equity, however, depends on your needs.

The two most common options for accessing home equity are a home equity line of credit (HELOC) and a cash-out refinance. Let’s take a look at the differences between a HELOC vs. cash-out refinance and when each might make sense for your financial situation and specific needs.

What Is a HELOC?

A home equity line of credit is revolving debt. Based on the value of and equity in your home, a HELOC works much like a low-interest credit card. Once approved (usually for an amount up to 90% of your home’s value minus any outstanding mortgage balances), you may draw on the line of credit and use the money however you’d like. For example, you could use your home’s equity to take a dream vacation or perform home repairs, consolidate high-interest debt or assist with retirement budgeting.

As you accumulate a balance on your line of credit, you will make repayments toward the interest and principal. The similarities with how a credit card works continue because as payments are made during the draw period, your principal balance will decrease, allowing you to borrow more money. 

It’s important to note that a HELOC exists separately from your existing mortgage, and comes with its own terms and repayment schedule. For this reason, a HELOC is often referred to as a second mortgage. It’s secured by your home, meaning that if you fail to make payments, you may risk losing your home.

What Is Cash-Out Refinancing?

In short, a cash-out refi is a new mortgage that pays off your existing mortgage, giving you your home equity as a lump sum of cash (via a check or direct deposit into your bank account). 

The result of a cash-out refinance is a brand new mortgage loan and likely different terms than your original mortgage. This means a different interest rate, new monthly payment amount and possibly a longer remaining loan term to pay off the new mortgage completely. 

A cash-out refi could be the way to go if you need a fixed amount of cash immediately and would like to maintain one mortgage payment. A cash-out refinance may also be best if you don’t believe that you have the discipline for a revolving line of credit, which is open to subsequent borrowing.

HELOC vs. Cash-Out Refinance

When it comes to deciding between a HELOC vs. cash-out refinance, consider how and when you intend to use the equity from your home, and how long you will need to pay it back. 

A HELOC is a secondary loan product that is fluid in how you draw from it and how you pay it back. For example, if you don’t have a balance, there is no payment to make. This means that you will only have to pay back the portion of the HELOC you’ve used at any given moment. Typically, you’ll be able to draw from your HELOC over a 10-year period. After the draw period ends, the repayment period officially begins and you’ll no longer be able to withdraw from the HELOC. You will then have up to 20 years to repay the outstanding balance.

This is in stark contrast to a cash-out refi, which may immediately increase your monthly mortgage payment obligation for the next 10, 15 or 30 years. Let’s say your home is valued at $350,000 and your mortgage balance is $200,000. In this scenario, you have $150,000 of equity in your home, meaning you could refinance your $200,000 loan balance for $300,000, and receive the extra $100,000 in a lump sum. Your new mortgage will be for $300,000, and the interest rate and monthly mortgage payment will reflect that.

Key Features of a HELOC

  • Revolving debt to borrow and repay
  • Second mortgage with separate payment and interest rate
  • Payments due only on what you borrow
  • Variable payments during the draw period based on your line of credit balance (Payments may also vary if the HELOC has a variable rate feature including during the repayment period)

Key Features of a Cash-Out Refinance

  • Receive your home equity in a lump sum
  • Continue with a single, refinanced mortgage payment
  • Fixed payments
  • Longer terms may be available (for example, a new 30-year mortgage)

As you can see, there are several key differences between a HELOC vs cash-out refi. Before proceeding with either option you should consider your personal budget to determine what you can afford, and think about how and how often you will use the equity in your home. 

See How Much Equity You Can Borrow Today

When you’re ready, use our HELOC calculator to find out how much equity you may be eligible to borrow.

Read more: What are the Pros and Cons of a Home Equity Line of Credit?

11 Ideas for What to Do with Your Tax Refund This Year

It’s a tax season like no other. Given all that’s going on in the world, it’s understandable that for many folks, priorities have shifted. This year’s tax refunds will likely be greeted with exhausted enthusiasm. But what should you do with your tax return to get the most out of your refund this year?

While the average refund decreased by 11.4% from 2019 to 2020, Americans still received, on average, a refund of over $2,500, according to the IRS. If you’re expecting a tax refund this year, you may be inclined to put that money to use in different ways than in previous years. Let’s take a look at what to do with your tax refund to enhance both your financial and emotional well-being.

Used correctly, your tax refund can help you accomplish a number of goals simultaneously. Ideally, you’ll add to, replenish or start a savings account to prepare for the next emergency, as well as plan for your future and take care of yourself and your loved ones. You can also use your tax refund to pay off debt, start a business and even set some money aside to make a difference in your community. 

Here are 11 of the best ways to use your tax refund this year:

1. Pay Off Debt

If you have outstanding high-interest debt on credit cards, payday loans or other bills, paying those off (or at least down considerably) may be the very best way to use your tax refund. Start with your highest interest debt and pay it down as much as possible. If you can pay it off in full, that’s even better. If not, consider a debt consolidation loan with a lower interest rate to pay off high-interest debt. Once paid off, consider closing that high-interest credit card in favor of one with a more favorable interest rate. 

Choosing to use a tax refund to pay off debt could give you more financial freedom month-to-month, save you money immediately (by not paying as much interest) and relieve stress. 

2. Put Your Tax Return Toward Creating an Emergency Fund

One of the best ways to use a tax refund is to ensure that your future is more secure. If you have a savings account, add to it. If you don’t, use your tax refund to start one! 

Of all the lessons we learned in 2020, having an emergency fund that can help you and your family in the event of unexpected financial struggles, job changes or a global pandemic is one of the most important to heed. 

As you decide how to use your tax refund, be careful not to let the bulk of it sit too long in your checking account, as it’ll likely start to dwindle as you adjust your spending upward with all that extra money easily accessible. 

3. Pay for Home Improvements or Car Repairs

Repairing or remodeling your home isn’t simply about trying to increase its value. Enjoying where you live is critical for your emotional well-being and happiness. Renovating your home, even in small ways, can increase the quality of your life and make you a happier person every day. Not to mention, there are a lot of affordable home renovations that can help you save money over the long run, such as installing more efficient appliances or windows. You might even find some good tax season deals. Just be careful: Big sales can lead to impulse buys if you’re not careful. 

But homes are likely not the only thing in your life that need a little maintenance. If you’ve been ignoring that check engine light and putting off automotive repairs, consider spending some of your refund on fixing your ride this year. Doing so might save you a lot of money down the road.

4. Donate Some of Your Tax Refund to Charity

There are probably a few causes that you wish you could financially support throughout the year but cannot while juggling a mortgage, internet and phone bills, and the rest of your monthly living expenses. And your favorite charity could probably use your support this year more than ever. 

If you’re getting a refund, tax season is one time you can make your wish come true. Donating money doesn’t just help you for next tax season (most charitable giving is tax deductible). It can help your community in the moment and, in turn, give you a sense of fulfillment that’s impossible to put a price tag on.

5. Treat Yourself with Your Tax Refund

It may seem frivolous to spend money from your tax refund on a special treat, but treating yourself to something nice doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve fallen victim to the dreaded ‘impulse buy.’ For example, after the year we’ve had, planning a vacation once it’s safe to take one could do a world of good for your well-being. 

When you think about what to do with your tax return this year, consider finding different ways to practice self-care with anything from a deep tissue massage to cooking lessons, a new fishing rod to that dream vacation.

6. Save for Retirement

The money from your tax refund could go a long way toward bringing your retirement into focus. There are a few ways to use your tax return to save for retirement and, in turn, potentially help with your tax situation next year:

  • Depositing money in an IRA at your bank
  • Investing in a traditional or Roth IRA through a trusted financial services firm (IRA contribution limits have been set at $6,000 for 2021)
  • Setting some of your refund aside in your bank account to offset an increase in your 401(k) contribution

7. Invest in Yourself

One of the best ways to use a tax refund could be to invest in yourself through a professional degree course, gaining new technical skills or even enrolling in graduate school. And doing so may have future tax benefits of its own through the Lifetime Learning Credit! 

According to the IRS, “this credit can help pay for undergraduate, graduate and professional degree courses — including courses to acquire or improve job skills.” Additionally, this credit is worth up to $2,000 per tax return and there’s no limit on the number of years you can claim it.

8. Invest in Your Children

The cost of going to college shows little sign of decreasing, so why not use some of the money from your tax refund to start a 529 College Savings Plan for your children if you have any? Like traditional retirement plans, the earnings in a 529 plan grow tax deferred (meaning that while you can’t deduct your contribution on your federal taxes, you won’t have to pay taxes on your withdrawal to pay their college tuition years from now). 

This useful nest egg may help your child start their academic and professional life with less debt on the path to getting their diploma. However, keep in mind that if you don’t anticipate the funds in your 529 plan covering your child’s entire tuition, it may impact their ability to secure financial aid. As always, do your homework and consult a financial advisor with questions.

9. Start a Business

Whether you’ve been longing to turn your hobby into a side hustle by starting your crafty business on Etsy or need seed money to finally open your dream breakfast café in your hometown, the money from your tax refund could go a long way toward starting a new business. 

10. Buy a Life Insurance Plan

The sticker shock of life insurance plans can be jarring. If buying life insurance has been cost prohibitive in the past or your employer doesn’t offer it, spending some of your tax return this year to secure your family’s future could be one of the wisest decisions of your life. 

11. Take Care of Your Mental Health

Finally, if you’ve been wanting to try therapy but couldn’t afford it because therapy is not covered by your health insurance, put your tax refund to work to improve your mental health this year. When all is said and done, this may end up being the very best way to use your tax refund. 

Read more: Learn how financially savvy people put their tax refund to work

How to Budget Better in 2021 and Why You Need to Start Now

Budgeting may seem like an archaic skill in a world of well-designed banking websites and smartphone apps with convenient notifications alerting you of new charges the moment you buy something. 

However, knowing how to budget will not only help you to live within your means today, but also give you a view into your long-term finances. 

Learning how to budget will show you the potential to grow your savings while giving you something to look forward to, like spending big on vacations and new tech. Here’s how to make a monthly budget:

Start Now

It’s never the wrong time to start learning how to budget or to budget better. Whether you’re living paycheck to paycheck or have a steady stream of discretionary income, there are budgeting tips that can help you spend your money more effectively, start saving (or save more) and pay off your debt to achieve financial well-being. 

List Your Monthly Income and Debt

The genesis of good budgeting is knowing and writing down your monthly take-home pay and your recurring outgoing payments. Take-home pay is the amount of money you receive from your work, Social Security payment, and any investment income that arrives in your bank account on a regular basis. Outgoing money usually involves more than just your housing, car, cell phone and utility bills. 

To budget as effectively as possible, you should also include monthly estimates for things like:

  • Grocery shopping
  • Haircuts
  • Gas/mass transit costs
  • Pizza nights
  • Takeout lunches
  • Credit card payments 
  • Other normal expenses you incur throughout the course of a month

Calculate Your Quarterly and Yearly Expenses

Not all bills are monthly. For homeowners, there can be things like real estate taxes and sewer bills. However, we all have expenses that crop up outside of our normal, month-to-month spending. 

Some examples of quarterly and yearly expenses include:

  • Holiday and birthday gifts
  • Car maintenance (regularly scheduled and the unexpected)
  • Vacations
  • Back-to-school shopping
  • Taxes
  • Utility bills

Spend time thinking about these types of bills as they relate to you, estimate and total them, and divide by 12. With that new figure, make an additional line item on your monthly budget to set money aside (in a separate savings account) for these non-monthly expenses so that you’re financially prepared when they come due. 

Budget Three Months at a Time

Whether you use a spreadsheet or a paper notebook, setting a budget three months at a time will give you more visibility into your money situation. And as they say, knowledge is power. 

Here’s why budgeting three months out can make an impact on your spending habits and, ultimately, your ability to save for the future: 

The Bigger the Picture, The More You Will See

Seeing the bigger picture of your financial life will help you determine whether you have the extra income next month to pay for that big ticket item you’d like to buy or to cover the monthly cost of that new streaming service you want to subscribe to.

Curb Your Spending to Supercharge Your Savings

Knowing you’ll have money to save each month will help to curb your spending. This is because every dollar spent outside your normal, budgeted-for purchases means a dollar less toward that vacation, new flat screen TV, charitable giving or whatever else it is you’re saving for. 

Look for Ways to Trim Spending

In addition to budgeting three months at a time, take a critical look at your budget and ask yourself:

  • Do I spend too much on takeout or delivery? If so, consider eating breakfast at home and packing lunch more often.
  • Am I using all the groceries I purchase? If not, which foods are being wasted and how much are they costing you every time you shop?
  • Are there opportunities to take advantage of coupons, repeat delivery discounts or other savings to reduce my monthly expenses? If so, you know what to do!

Control Your Inbox

Finally, to avoid unnecessary spending, consider stopping the temptation at the source. If you have an email address and if you’ve ever shopped online, you likely have a steady stream of promotional pitches landing in your inbox. There’s no problem treating yourself every once in a while or making thoughtful purchases when it makes sense for your budget, but sometimes these offers can be budget-busters. Consider unsubscribing to some of the store emails that could present unnecessary temptation.

Read more: Finding Balance Between Spending Money and Savings Time

Filing Taxes: What You Need to Know Before Tax Season

It’s that time of year! To help you prepare ahead of filing taxes this tax season, we’ll discuss:

  • What documents and information to gather
  • Why you might want to consider last-minute deductions
  • The best time to file depending on whether you’re expecting a refund versus owing additional tax

Keep in mind that for specific questions or concerns about filing taxes, it’s best to consult a trusted tax professional. 

Decide Who Will File Your Taxes

How complicated do you expect your tax situation to be? Did you have a major change last year, like a divorce or marriage? Or did you start a business, cash out a 401(k) or have a child? If so, you may need professional help filing your taxes. That’s why it’s always best to know early on whether you’ll need a pro. (Keep in mind that their prices could rise closer to the April 15 tax filing deadline.) 

The Internal Revenue Service reports that more than 80 million taxpayers used paid professionals to complete and submit their tax returns last year. If you plan to go this route, it’s important to organize your receipts, forms and other documents well before tax time. 

You May Be Able to File Your Taxes for Free

If your tax situation doesn’t require a professional this tax filing season, you may want to look into IRS Free File. This public-private partnership between the IRS and the tax preparation software industry provides brand-name tax filing products for free to many Americans, which means you could prepare and file your federal income tax online for free.

Gather Documents

Now is the time to gather up: 

  • W2s
  • 1099 forms
  • Donation receipts
  • Calculated childcare costs
  • Medical bills paid out of pocket
  • Investment interest tax forms
  • Property tax receipts
  • Student loan interest payments
  • Anything else related to your financial life from the past calendar year 

You or your tax professional may not need it all, but being armed with more is better than less when it comes to tax filing. 

Compile Personal Information

Chances are you have your own Social Security number memorized. Whether you file taxes electronically yourself or with the help of a tax professional, you’ll need to have your spouse’s Social Security number if filing taxes jointly, and those of the dependents you’ll claim as well. 

Additionally, you may need addresses, dates, and dollar amounts of vacation and rental properties if you bought or sold them last year. Now’s the time to pull together and write down all of this information to make tax filing season seamless. 

Have a Copy of Last Year’s Return on Hand

Cross-referencing this year’s return with your last can be helpful in making sure you don’t forget something, like a deduction you’re still eligible for or a source of passive income you need to claim. 

Consider Last-Minute Retirement Plan Contributions

The 2020 IRA contribution limit was $6,000 plus $1,000 in catch-up contributions for those 50 and older. If you have extra savings and haven’t maxed out your retirement plan contribution yet, you may be able to reduce your taxable income to pay less tax this year.

Be Mindful of Tax Scams

One thing you need to know before filing taxes is that there are many tax scams out there to be mindful of, including tax preparers promising to deliver a bigger return. Remember that you sign your returns under penalties of perjury. Even if you work with a tax professional, it is you who’s responsible for any incorrect or misleading information, whether it’s a mistake or fraud. Make sure the person preparing your taxes is well-credentialed to reduce your risk. Additionally, you should never respond to telephone calls or emails claiming to be from the IRS or the U.S. Treasury. The only way the IRS will correspond with you is through the U.S. Mail, meaning that those phone calls and emails are not on the level.

Need More Time?

If you need an extension this tax filing season, you can submit a request by April 15, 2021, or your particular tax deadline. You can push your due date out up to six months. And you won’t be alone in doing so, either. Last year, 12 million Americans needed more time for filing their taxes.

Make a Plan for Your Refund

If you expect to receive a tax refund, make a plan for what you’ll do with that money so that you make the most of it. Will you put some away in savings, pay off credit card debt or give to charity? What you do with your refund is up to you, but it’s best to have a plan before your tax refund arrives in your bank account.

File Your Taxes

Of course, all of your diligent tax season preparations should culminate with the filing of your taxes on time, so mark your calendar!

Read more: Is HELOC Interest Tax Deductible?

How to Manage Credit Card Debt Wisely in 9 Steps

According to Experian’s 2019 Consumer Credit Review, 75% of American consumers with credit cards carry an average balance of over $6,000. And the impacts can be financially devastating. 

Credit cards can be enticing, offering not only the ability to buy now and pay later, but also a bevy of rewards like cashback and airline miles. However, there are downsides. Credit card offers often come with high interest rates, a variety of fees and the potential to damage your credit score, if mismanaged. 

Learning how to manage credit card debt today can help improve and keep your credit score high. In return, a high credit score will help your borrowing power should you someday need to get a mortgage, open up a HELOC or take out a personal loan

Here are 9 steps to help you manage credit cards to minimize interest payments, avoid fees and take full advantage of the benefits many credit cards offer:

1. Live Within Your Means

The number one key to learning how to manage credit card debt (and your entire financial life) is to live within your means. In short, this means identifying the difference between your net income from paychecks (plus other sources like Social Security or investment income) and your consistent monthly debt obligations. 

To calculate your monthly debt obligations, list your rent or mortgage payment then any car or loan payments, as well as the money you need for gas, groceries, streaming services and cell phone bills, plus other expenses you incur on a month-to-month basis. This figure should not be larger than your take-home pay each month. If it is, it’s time to reevaluate not only your spending but your employment situation to see about earning more income, possibly from a second job or side hustle. 

2. Set Up Autopay

According to a CreditCards.com survey from May 2020, seven of the country’s top 16 credit card issuers now charge customers up to a $40 late fee, even if you miss your due date by a single day. The easiest way to avoid late fees is to enroll in autopay. You can typically set this up for the minimum payment due, the full statement balance or any amount in between to be paid automatically from your checking or savings account each month, on the due date or any date before. By taking advantage of autopay, you’ll never forget to make your payment or have to pay a late fee.

3. Pay More Than the Minimum

You should always pay at least the minimum payment due each month. However, paying only the minimum will leave you in debt longer and could mean paying thousands of dollars in interest. 

As an example, let’s say you’re carrying a $6,000 balance on a credit card that charges a 14.99% interest rate, and you make only the minimum payments. In doing so, you may eventually pay upward of $4,000 in interest before you even pay off your original $6,000 balance! 

4. Pay in Full

The opposite of paying the minimum is paying in full. When you pay your entire statement balance in full before the due date each month, you’ll pay no interest. If you’re using a rewards credit card and have learned how to manage credit cards effectively in this way, you’ll get all of the benefits (cashback, airlines miles, hotel points, etc.) while paying the credit card issuer nothing for these rewards. This is the pinnacle of wise credit card management.

5. Pay Your Bill Only After Your Statement Period Ends

Speaking of those rewards… It’s great to pay down your balance or pay your credit cards in full as soon as you have the money to do so. But there’s a caveat… If you pay current charges before the statement period ends, you could be missing out on the rewards for those charges. This is because rewards are often calculated based on the charges posted and due at the end of each statement period. If you pay off or pay down this balance before the monthly statement period closes, that’s less you’ll earn rewards on. The sweet spot to pay your credit card is anytime after the statement period closes but before the due date.

6. Track Your Spending

You can either track your spending habits on your own or use a free credit card spending tracker app. Some of these apps even offer color-coded summaries to easily identify how and where you typically spend your money. 

For example, are you spending hundreds on groceries each month yet still ordering a lot of takeout? Tracking your credit card spending will illuminate trends and point you toward ways you might improve your financial life. No matter how you keep tabs on your spending, it’s a key step toward learning how to manage credit cards successfully. 

7. Find a Credit Card with No Annual Fee

While many rewards credit cards carry an annual fee (although some may be waived for the first year), some credit cards offer no annual fees. Choosing a card without annual fees could save you upward of $99 each year while still allowing you to build your credit history and improve your credit score.

8. Manage Your Credit Utilization Rate

This tip is all about managing your credit score. One of the factors that goes into calculating your credit score is your credit utilization rate. This is the amount of your credit card’s spending limit you regularly use. 

For example, if you have $6,000 in credit card debt but a credit limit of $20,000, your utilization rate is 30%. The lower your credit utilization percentage, the better, because it means your credit cards aren’t maxed out. A low percentage also shows potential lenders that you know how to manage credit card debt.

9. Consolidate Your Debt

If your past credit card usage has become a heavy burden, debt consolidation may help you get a handle on your credit card debt. Learning how to use home equity to consolidate debt or applying for a debt consolidation loan through Prosper may help get your financial life in order and improve your emotional well-being. 

Read more: 5 Tips to Manage Holiday Shopping Debt

11 Financial New Year’s Resolutions for 2021

As you make your annual commitment to start eating better and working out more, consider tackling your financial wellness, too, with these 11 financial New Year’s resolutions. From spending and budgeting to saving and learning, each of the new year money resolutions below could go a long way in improving your financial wellbeing in 2021 and for years to come.

1. Start Saving/Increase Retirement Savings

If you aren’t currently saving for retirement, the new year is the perfect time to start. Your employer may offer a 401(k) or 403(b)(7) retirement savings plan. They may even match your savings up to a certain percentage. If so, make a plan to contribute at least that percentage to maximize your company’s matching benefit and supercharge your savings. 

If you already contribute to your employer’s retirement plan or an IRA, consider bumping up the percentage you save to accelerate your retirement savings potential in the new year. Times may be tough right now, but there are ways to plan for your retirement even during an uncertain economy.

2. Make a Monthly Budget

Of all the top New Year’s resolutions, few have the potential to make as immediate an impact on your financial life as making a monthly budget. Actually seeing how much money you have coming and going, and what’s left to save for your short and long-term future, can be transformational. 

3. Build a Post-COVID Emergency Fund

If there’s one thing we’ve learned from the past year’s pandemic, it’s to expect the unexpected. That’s why one of our top New Year’s resolutions for 2021 is to rebuild our emergency fund for life’s “what ifs”. If you’re in a position to do so, start building your fund now by putting money aside every paycheck. Even a small emergency fund could help cover costs like grocery or electricity bills if you hit a bump down the road.

4. Consolidate Debt

Having a lot of debt to manage can drain your energy and negatively impact your mental health. As you think about which money resolutions may be right for you in the new year, consider debt consolidation to organize your outstanding debt. Debt consolidation could help bundle credit cards, medical bills, and student loans into a single monthly payment.

5. Refinance Your Mortgage

Mortgage interest rates are still holding at or near all-time lows. A refinance could be one financial New Year’s resolution that’ll leave more money in your bank account. That means more money to build your emergency or retirement funds. FYI: You may also be able to refinance your auto loan to reduce your car payment.

6. Improve Your Home

You may not need to go as far as replacing your siding or building a new patio to feel better about your home. There are plenty of smaller home repairs and upgrades that can freshen up your space. Consider replacing light fixtures inside or planting a new garden bed outside to make a notable difference. Whether looking to increase the value of your home, make money-saving home repairs in the winter or simply enjoy your home, the benefits of home improvements are boundless.

7. Improve Your Credit

Make 2021 the year you improve your credit with these six tips to improve your credit score. You can start by paying down credit card balances while requesting credit limit increases. This is not so you can spend more, but rather reduce the usage rate of your credit cards, which may help boost your score.

8. Become a Couponer

Make a New Year money resolution to stop spending unnecessary cash and get rewarded for your everyday buying habits. Traditional coupon clipping and online cashback and discount services like Rakuten are a great place to start.

9. Analyze Your Media Consumption Spending

For years, people wished they could choose their television channels a la carte versus spending on a bloated monthly cable package. That day did eventually arrive, but are we actually saving money? This new year, spend some time analyzing your watching habits and streaming subscriptions. Cancel any subscriptions you rarely use or ask friends or family to share an account.

10. Analyze Your Investments

If you have stocks, bonds, and mutual fund investments, take time early in the new year to analyze your portfolio’s allocation. Generally speaking, you should want less risk in your portfolio as you get closer to retirement. If you’re nearing retirement or plan to withdraw your savings soon, you might need to tweak your allocation to minimize risk. 

11. Become Smarter About Money and Finance

We love talking about money and personal finance, but we understand that not everyone feels the same. Thankfully, there are other ways to learn about money. Podcasts are a great way to boost your knowledge about the economy, personal finance, and other money-related topics. Check out Planet Money, The Indicator and So Money for fresh, topical, and conversational money chats without the confusing industry jargon.

Read more: 5 Tips to Pay off Debt in the New Year