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In the spirit of the new year, and financial goals, make it your 2015 resolution to do two things: one, allocate a greater percentage of your earnings to your retirement. While the goal is 10-15% of your income, if everyone increased they retirement contributions by 2%, that would make a huge difference by the time you hit 65.

And remember, all of those contributions are pre-tax, which could reduce the amount you owe to the IRS come April of 2016. Additionally, work to improve your credit score this year. This starts with knowing what it is, so get your free score from one of the big three credit bureaus this month and really look at it to get an idea of areas you might be able to improve. Committing to these two things will make your 2015 financially rewarding.

Lastly, in the even that you have not done so already, make sure you make your healthcare decisions. As we all know, healthcare costs can be financially ruinous. The Affordable Care Act enrollment period has just 5 weeks remaining, so make sure you get healthcare coverage!

Tom: What other things does 2015 have in store for us on the financial front?

Mellody: That’s a great question, Tom, and there are a few things I think we are probably going to see in 2015. Number 1 – Interest rates are going to rise. We had been on the lookout for this to happen in 2014, but the Fed under the guidance of Janet Yellen has been very cautious, not wanting to upset the economic apple cart.

However, with the news that the economy is growing at very healthy clip – 5% in q3, the fastest in 11 years – I think we will see the Fed move with greater confidence in 2015, including on the interest rate front. That means it will be more expensive to borrow money for home or car purchases. If you have a mortgage, you might want to look at refinancing before the rates go up. Higher interest rates will also negatively impact the bond market and slow the stock markets a bit.

However, with the strong economic numbers we have seen, you can also expect to see the markets continue to move in right direction. 2015 will almost certainly not be another year of double-digit gains, but I do think with the healthy economy and healthy corporate balance sheets, stocks will continue their bullish movements.

Along with a positive trend in stocks, we should continue to see a positive trend in the labor market, with workers, not employers, coming out on top. This past week we saw 21 states raise their minimum wage for the new year, so that is a good sign for workers at the lower end of the ladder. Additionally, as the labor market tightens, wages in white-collar jobs should continue to inch up more quickly than we have seen in a number of years.

Tom: Sounds like you are predicting a rosy 2015. Thanks for joining us this morning, Mellody!

Mellody: Here is to a great 2015, Tom!

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Money Mondays: Getting The Right Financial Start To The New Year  was originally published on

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