Frustration with banks' policies, such as new fees, has motivated thousands of customers to jump ship and join credit unions, according to the Credit Union National Association. It can be a good decision, especially considering that credit unions often offer higher interest rates on savings accounts as well as lower fees and lower rates on auto loans and mortgages. They also prioritize spreading financial literacy to their customers.
15. Get a raise.
Just because the economy's struggling to make its big comeback doesn't mean you have to delay asking for a raise. Certified financial planner Lauren Lyons Cole suggests first checking out salary-comparison sites, such as Payscale.com and Salary.com, to see if your own income is out of whack with that of your peers. If it's lower than it should be, review your accomplishments and present them to your boss, along with a request for a raise.
The lack of job security these days has inspired many Americans to pick up a second stream of income by moonlighting. According to the website Payscale.com, the highest-paid moonlighting gigs are in law, clinical psychology, senior copywriting, and information technology security. Freelance website Elance.com predicts that the trend toward freelancing, especially in the creative-services sector of the economy, will only grow throughout 2013.
When people juggle more than one job, they can quickly feel overwhelmed with responsibilities. Veteran job-jugglers say they survive by staying organized, waking up early, and avoiding time-wastes such as television. Many also work on the weekends and some even take a sabbatical from their day jobs to focus exclusively on their second job for a few months.
When you land a new job, the human resources department can help you sign up for all of the new benefits, from flex spending accounts to health insurance to retirement accounts. Signing up for retirement benefits as soon as possible can pay off later: The earlier you start putting money away, the sooner it can start growing. TD Ameritrade calculates that saving $100 a month between ages 21 and 41 will create a nest egg of $471,358 by age 67, assuming a return of 8 percent per year. Waiting until age 41, however, will generate just under $60,000.
If you want more motivation to ramp up that side income in 2013, here it is: In most professions, income stops rising around age 40. Payscale.com reports that in many professions, you earn quickly in your twenties and thirties as you become more valuable. Then around mid-career, you plateau, and as a result, salary increases slow down. (Certain careers, including those in law and high-tech, are exceptions.) One way to make up for that loss is to earn more money outside your full-time job.