I-Team: Reach your financial goals in 2014

I-Team: Reach your financial goals in 2014

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ATLANTA, Ga. -

Even if you don't make a new budget, you may want to make a couple of financial goals for the New Year. And, FOX 5 I-Team's Dana Fowle has a few recommendations to help you maximize your finances in 2014.

Last week, a representative from Clearpoint Credit counseling spoke on Good Day Atlanta about saving money by keeping a log of the money you spend for a month. He recommended eliminating one bad habit per month – like purchasing coffee and enlisting a friend to keep you accountable.

In addition, the counselor recommended getting rid of your high-interest credit cards and completely satisfying your balances before renegotiating your interest rate for 2014.

Fowle also spoke to expert Money Manager, Ron Hart of Morgan Stanley, about investing. Hart explained that "whether you make $85,000 or $25,000, investing in a 401K ensures you maximize your money." The goal is to have six months of reserve money in the bank to cover basic expenses in case of an emergency. However, he also advises not to "bite off more than you can chew."

The following are additional tips from Hart on better managing your finances in the New Year.

Keep track of your money — Put together a budget to understand what's going in and out of your bank account. After your necessary expenses like housing, bills and transportation, where are you spending your money? How much is going towards your short-term and long-term goals?

Reduce debt — Focus on reducing any credit card debt and/or student loans you may be holding. If you have debt, make sure it's the lowest cost debt as possible — and one that offers a tax deduction. A credit card does not offer that. Therefore, paying off balances to avoid interest charges is a good idea.

Save more - Towards debt reduction, emergency savings, retirement and college education (like in a 529 College Savings Plan). When saving for retirement factor in longevity – especially if you're a woman. Women live 4-5 years longer than men.

Evaluate your 401(k) plan — If you are participating in a 401(k) plan through your employer, take time to evaluate the amount of your contributions and whether you should allocate more to those accounts. Many companies offer a matching provision for your contributions that equates to free money, so be sure to check your plan to see if you are taking advantage of that match.

Review and re-balance your investment portfolio — If you have an additional investment portfolio you may find that your portfolio no longer meets your short- or long-term needs. Over the course of the year, the market value of each security fluctuates and earns a different return.

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