(BPT) - Whether it's the new year, a new job, a new baby or simply the right time to get your finances order, the process usually starts with setting some goals. The first step in the process of achieving your financial goals is to recognize what needs to be done to put yourself in the position you want to be in. Once you've identified those goals, you just need to figure out how to accomplish them.
TransUnion, one of the national credit reporting companies, recently asked people what type of financial goals they were looking to accomplish in the next year. Here are four of the most common answers and how you can achieve them if you, too, are looking to obtain financial health:
* Spend less on unnecessary expenses: The first step in cutting out unnecessary expenses is to determine your current spending habits to understand just how much disposable income you have so you can set a monthly budget and manage it wisely. TransUnion Plus is a new tool that allows you input all of your information about your bank accounts, loans and any other accounts that influence how you budget. By examining your spending habits during the past few months and inputting monthly payments and deposits using this tool, you can get a better idea about where you can possibly cut spending. To help stay on track, it is important to check your budget monthly to see how you are doing.
* Achieve healthier credit: Start by checking your score. This will give you a baseline, making it easier to track your progress. From there, check your credit reports frequently and look for any bad financial habits that may be keeping your score down, such as late payments or bloated credit card balances. Checking regularly can also help you minimize your exposure to identity theft and ensure your credit report accurately reflects your credit history. If you discover information on your report that might not be accurate, you can find an online dispute form at TransUnion.com.
* Save more money: Once you've created your monthly budget, you can begin to identify ways to cut unnecessary expenses and save more. Sit down with your financial adviser to see what type of investments, such as a 401k, make sense with any money that's left over. As you are reassessing your financial goals, review your investments to solidify your returns.
* Pay down existing debts: For most folks, paying down debts is the first step toward saving more, so the two often go hand in hand. Identify which debts carry the highest interest rates and focus on paying those off first. Attack credit card debt before you increase principal payments on 'good' debt like students loans with low interest rates. As you're setting your monthly budget, dedicate any money that's left over to paying down your debts.
When you're setting financial goals, it pays to develop a plan that you can execute and then have the discipline to stick to it. For more information about how you can achieve your financial goals and obtain budgeting tools, visit www.transunionplus.com.