The New Year represents a time for new beginnings, with many people focusing on building healthier financial habits. The following Cornell University experts share tips on how to start 2022 off on the right financial foot. 

Vicki Bogan, associate professor of applied economics and policy, says achieving healthy investing habits for households means developing a solid grasp of financial literacy, embracing diversification and taking advantage of investment programs offered by employers and governments.  

Bogan says:

“The rise of commission-free platforms over the past year, such as Robinhood, has reduced barriers to financial market access. Financial literacy is key when you’re accessing those platforms. You do not want to put all your money in one or two specific stocks. Investing in individual stocks is pretty risky. You want to think about diversification and maybe think about starting to invest with mutual funds, which can give you broad exposure to the market.

“It’s hard for people to feel the pain (or cost) of saving when the benefits of those choices are enjoyed in the future. When you think of retirement savings, it’s magnified because retirement is very far in the future. Signing up for your 401K plan is important. Many of these plans allow you to opt in and then employee investment is limited as the fund is managed for you.”

Emily Garbinsky, associate professor of marketing and management, is an expert on consumer finance well-being and studies how individuals and couples make financial decisions.

Garbinsky says:

“When it comes to finances, such as saving and spending, we really have to be honest with ourselves. We see a lot of statistics about people not being financial responsible, such as the majority of Americans not being ready for retirement or not having enough for an emergency fund. People see these statistics but seem to believe that must be everyone else. Well, that simply can’t be the case. 

“For couples, engaging in any financial behavior expected to be disapproved of by one’s romantic partner and intentionally failing to disclose this behavior to them has a negative impact on a relationship.

“People who pool their finances are more satisfied in their relationship, and they’re also more likely to stay in the relationship and less likely to break up. The multiple benefits to pooling are clear, from spending money more responsibly through a couple’s shared accountability, on average, to couples being more satisfied in their relationship over time. 

“If restoring perceptions of financial responsibility is primarily about being honest with oneself, truly the solution for the majority of financial stress we see in relationships is about transparency and being honest with one’s partner.”

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