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Three steps to take control of your finances in the new year

Getting your finances in shape can seem daunting, especially if you have a lot of debt.

Taking a few steps now, though, can you help you take control of your finances by the end of the year.

Michael Mason with Mason and Associates in Newport News stopped by the News 3 studios to share three steps you can take to make the most of your money.

  1. Pay off credit card debt - To keep from getting overwhelmed, start small.  Mason says you should set monthly or weekly goals to whittle down your credit card debt.
  2. Start building an emergency fund - Your next step is to build an emergency fund.  You need money you can access immediately so that you're not dipping into retirement savings if you have an emergency.  Withdrawing money early from retirement funds comes with penalties.
  3. Plan for retirement
    • As you start saving for the long-term, find out if your company does 401k matching.  If they do, don't leave that money on the table.  Make sure you're contributing enough to maximize their match.
    • Along with saving money, you should think carefully about when is the best time to retire.  Mason says delaying your retirement could mean a lot more money.  "Understand that maybe it's more important for most folks to delay just one year. One year of social security from 62 to 63 has the equivalent value of saving $35,000.  So if you delay from 62 to 67 that's over $200,000 equivalent value of putting money into an IRA or 401k," Mason said.