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The key to millennials' financial success in 2016

New year, new you. That's the mantra many millennials appear to have when it comes to their finances in 2016.

Most 18- to 34-year-olds have high hopes for 2016 — 88 percent of millennials said they are more likely to save money, and 82 percent believe they will invest more money in 2016, according to a recent Bank of America study.

So where should you start?

Creating a checklist helps you become more aware of the money you have and how best to allocate it toward your financial goals, added Sean Keating, a certified financial planner at Patriot Financial Advisors in Eatontown, New Jersey, in an interview last year. "You start making conscious decisions that set you up for better lifestyle habits."

To get started, know what you are working with. It sounds basic, but make sure you are spending less than you are making to avoid racking up debt. Go through your monthly expenses and divide it into what is needed versus what is wanted and see where you can cut some unnecessary costs.

Going through your banking statements from the past year will also provide a full picture of your finances to help you make conscious decisions in your spending going forward.

Set aside an emergency fund if you haven't already. You never know when you might have car problems, have an accident or get sick and expenses will get tight. Keating suggests building those unexpected expenses into your budget well ahead of time. To that end, most experts suggest setting aside three to six months' worth of your income.

"You are young, and you don't think that something bad could happen," said certified financial planner Carolyn McClanahan at Life Planning Partners in Jacksonville, Florida, in an interview last year.

But that's just not the case. And the best time to buy disability and life insurance— and prepare yourself for those worst-case scenarios — is when you are young and healthy.

It may seem far off but revisiting your retirement contribution at the start of the year is a good way to make sure you are on the right track. "Saving 10 percent is ideal, but if you can do 20 even better," McClanahan said. At the very least, max out your company's match for your 401(k).

If you get a raise at the beginning of the year or a holiday bonus, it is easiest to increase your contribution at the same time.

Much like retirement, tax season seems pretty far off, too, but April is just around the corner. If you are like most millennials, you probably do your own taxes on a program like Turbo Tax. Go ahead and start plugging the numbers in.

If it looks like you'll owe money, start saving up. Alternatively, if you are getting a big refund, then adjust the withholding on your W-4 to increase your cash on hand or earmark that refund to get an emergency fund started.

And finally, one of the most important boxes to check when it comes to your assets is you. Assess your skills and see where you can improve and work toward that goal. Sign up for a class or talk to a boss about what you need to work on improving in the year ahead. Find a mentor to help you with that skill at work. Your human capital is key to your future growth and earning potential next year and beyond.

— CNBC's Katie Little contributed to this post.