Successful planning can help you save for major purchases. Photo via Pixabay

While most people in the United States don’t have a positive association with rats, in Chinese symbolism rats are considered a sign of wealth and surplus. So with the Chinese zodiac’s 2020 being the Year of the Rat, this year is expected to be the year for prosperity and new beginnings.

As such, Chinese astrologists predict the Rat Year of 2020 to be a prosperous and lucky year for us all, especially regarding goals and aspirations related to finances — such as investing, buying real estate or starting a business. They also advise that that these types of efforts will only be successful if carefully planned.

At Bank of America, where I work, financial advisors and banking specialists couldn’t agree more.

Now is the time, with the Year of the Rat, to do some careful financial planning by setting and sticking to new financial goals.

Here are four realistic financial goals you can set to start using to improve your financial health this fortuitous year:

1) Pay down debt. You can be savvy about paying down debt by breaking it down. Determine a realistic way to approach reducing what you owe by paying off a little at a time. And remember, not all debt is created equal. You’ll want to pay down high-interest debt first and focus on other debt later.

2) Make savings simple. Saving for big-ticket items can be tough, especially if you have unexpected expenses that take your savings off course. Giving yourself smaller, shorter-term goals may help you reach your savings goals sooner. Consider setting benchmarks for your savings goals along the way to give yourself a psychological boost.

3) Track your spending. Tracking your spending can give you a better sense of where your money is going each month, so you can determine where and if you need to cut back. Using technology can help. Apps, along with mobile and online banking, offer solutions for tracking your spending and identifying areas where you can make cuts.

4) Invest in yourself. Saving for retirement is an investment in your future self. Take a look at how you’re planning for retirement to see if you’re maximizing your resources. Can you contribute more to your 401(k) or IRA? Remember, retirement plans often offer tax advantages. Take time to research and take advantage of available options.

Clifford Cho, a website sponosored by our bank, can help build know-how on topics like budgeting, saving, managing debt, home ownership, retirement and more — so people have the power to learn and take action.

Setting and working towards financial goals are an important part of your financial health. With the right planning, you can build lasting positive habits that guide prosperity and wealth in your financial life — not just for the Year of the Rat, but every year!

And remember, the Lunar New Year started on Saturday, Jan. 25, and ends on Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2021.

Clifford Cho is a senior vice president and the market executive for Bank of America in San Diego. 

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