And if it sounds complicated, don’t worry. The process is actually quite easy, and usually involves a quick call to each financial advisory firm, and a short form. Combining your accounts is a great way to improve your path to retirement at the start of a new year.

 Tom: How about dealing with some of that holiday credit debt?

 Mellody: You are on it, Tom. My third financial tip to kick off 2016 is to consolidate and pay down high interest credit card debt. Getting to a lower interest rate and reducing this debt burden will help your finances, and over time it will pay additional dividends in the form of an improved credit score.

There are a number of ways to consolidate your credit card debt. First, you can transfer credit card debts to a zero or low-interest credit card. You can also get a debt consolidation loan with a lower interest rate from a bank, credit union, or installment loan lender. These options will reduce the number of payments, and the interest rate.

One note of caution here. You need to be careful that the lower rates are not teaser rates, you have to stick to a repayment plan, and not incur more debt on top of your current balance.

If you are thinking about debt consolidation, you may want to consult a credit counselor first. If you’re not sure of the best way to address your debt, a counselor can help you explore your options.

Tom: Thanks for the advice, Mellody. Hopefully we can all start off 2016 by making some positive financial moves!

 Mellody: You are welcome, Tom. If you follow this advice, by the time 2017 rolls around you will be in better financial shape. Have a great week!

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