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How to get your finances in order in 2024: 10 tips for New Yorkers

'20.12.2023'

Lyudmila Balabay

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The New York City Department of Consumer and Worker Protection (DCWP) outlined helpful city programs that will help you manage your personal finances in 2024. We offer 10 tips from the mayor's office that will help you get your finances in order in the new year.

1. Get free financial advice

You can get free one-on-one financial counseling over the phone or in person at the New York Financial Opportunity Center. They will help you there:

  • develop a debt repayment strategy;
  • negotiate with creditors;
  • understand your credit report;
  • create a spending plan;
  • improve your credit rating;
  • open a bank account;
  • start saving money for the future and for emergencies.

Visit the site nyc.gov/TalkMoney or call 311 and say “financial counseling” to make an appointment or get more information.

2. Fill out and file your tax return for free

NYC Free Tax Prep helps you determine if you qualify for tax benefits and make sure you get the maximum tax refund possible. This upcoming tax season, couples earning up to $85 and single taxpayers earning a maximum of $000 can get a free return preparer (in person or online). This year, NYC Free Tax Prep expanded to provide services to self-employed taxpayers (freelancers and small business owners).

For more information, call 311 and ask for tax preparation assistance or visit nyc.gov/TaxPrep.

3. Look for new programs to help lower your student loan payments.

The latest student debt relief program is called SAVE. It can reduce borrowers' payments to $0 per month depending on their monthly income. Tool "Federal Student Aid Loan Simulator" will help you find the plan that's best suited to lower your loan payments. If you are behind on your student loan payments, enroll in "New Start" program. It will save your credit score and you can sign up for a repayment plan.

New York's Financial Opportunity Centers can help you understand your rights and responsibilities and your student loan payment options. Additional resources - on the website nyc.gov/StudentLoans.

4. Know your financial rights at work

You must continue to be paid while you are sick. If you work in fast food or retail, you have the right to a predictable schedule. If you work in fast food, you cannot be fired without “just cause.” If you deliver through restaurant delivery apps (Uber, DoorDash, and Grubhub), you are eligible to earn at least $17,96 per hour (not including tips). To learn about workers' rights in New York, visit nyc.gov/workers.

On the subject: Scientists have found that money can still buy happiness, but it should not be too much

5. Be careful when using buy now, pay later services

Such services make it possible to buy more and spread payments. But there is a risk that you will end up paying more than the original cost of the goods, especially if you miss a payment or pay late. If you decide to use these services, make sure you understand all the terms, such as the number of weeks you have to make payments, interest rates and fees. Read DCWP advice on buy now, pay later servicefor more information.

6. Check your credit report

To avoid surprises and correct any potential errors in your credit history, you should check your credit reports regularly. You have the right to request your credit report every 12 months free of charge on the website annualcreditreport.com. If you find any errors, file a complaint with the credit bureau.

7. Open a secure bank account

If you don't have a bank account, start the new year by opening an account that is secure and suitable for your needs. All New Yorkers can open NYC SafeStart - a FREE bank account with a card, no overdraft fees and no monthly fees. The minimum balance to open such an account is $25. Visit the website nyc.gov/SafeStart or call 311 and ask about the NYC SafeStart account. Some banks and credit unions also accept IDNYC as their primary form of identification.

8. Develop and stick to a spending plan

A clear plan will help you reorganize and reduce your expenses and save money for the future. Start by tracking your current daily expenses. Once you understand your current expenses, look for "lost money" in your budget - unnecessary subscriptions, unnecessary purchases. Also, don't forget to pay yourself (save a few dollars from every paycheck)! Remember, saving $25 or $50 can add up to a nice investment over time. You can make this task easier by setting up automatic transfers to your savings account every time you receive a payment.

9. Consider a retirement plan

If you are able to save for retirement through an employer-sponsored plan, try to additionally set aside a certain amount from your budget each month and contribute to that account. Every little bit helps in the long run. Among other things, you can open your own accounts, such as a traditional IRA or a Roth IRA.

10. Protect yourself from identity theft

Create unique passwords for each account and make sure they consist of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers and symbols. Never share your password with other people and change it several times a year. Also, avoid providing personal information online, via email or on social media. If you are a victim of identity theft, report it to your local police department and file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) at ftc.gov/idtheft or call 1-877-ID-THEFT (1-877-438-4338). Also, in the event of identity theft, place a fraud alert on your credit report with one of the three credit reporting agencies: Equifax, Experian, TransUnion.

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