Did you achieve your financial goals in 2018? If not, keep reading.
To achieve financial fitness this year, set strong financial resolutions that will help you get your money situation on track. While making your list of resolutions is pretty simple, sticking to your plan and achieving your goals is easier said than done.
Whether you want to invest, save more, or finally commit to a spending budget, here are our top 5 financial resolutions.
Resolution 1: Plan Your Financial Goals
The best way to stick to your financial resolutions is to start with a plan. When planning your financial goals for the year ahead, it’s important to take an honest and objective look at your financial situation and objectives. Do you plan to save more aggressively for retirement? Do you plan to spend more on travel? Do you want to give more to charity? You get the idea. Planning will give the confidence you need to achieve your financial goals.
If planning isn’t your strong suit, then don’t hesitate to enlist the help of an expert. Partnering with a trusted financial advisor can help relieve the stress that often comes from navigating the complexities of your finances.
Resolution 2: Create a Budget and Stick to It
Creating a budget is a great way to become more aware of your financial habits. Your budget should track your earnings after taxes, how much you spend, and how much you save. If you don’t know how much you’re spending, then consider downloading a smartphone app that does it for you, or create your own spreadsheet that allows you to track your spending for 30 days at a time.
With the popular 50/30/20 budgeting rule, 50% of your paycheck should go to necessities like housing, vehicle loans, student loans, utilities, and food. Next, 30% should go towards “wants.” “Wants” include clothing, leisure activities, entertainment, traveling, and dining out. The remaining 20% should be allocated towards your savings. Depending on your financial situation, this money can go into an emergency fund, retirement investments, 529 contributions, etc. You may want to consider changing the percentages depending on your age and progress you’ve made with various savings goals.
Resolution 3: Plan for Near Future, Big–Ticket Expenses
If you need to make a large purchase in the near future, be sure to include it in your short-term savings plan. Is your child heading towards college in a few years? Will you need to repair your roof or purchase a new car soon?
When you have a big-ticket item coming your way in the next few years, you will want to increase your savings and think of that money as “spent” or “untouchable.”
Resolution 4: Manage Your Debt
When it comes to taking on debt, it’s important to remember the difference between what you can borrow vs. what you should borrow. If you have credit card debt, set realistic goals and create a schedule to pay it back. If you can, try to keep your combined total monthly debt below 36% of your income (before taxes).
Resolution 5: Prepare for the Unexpected
Unexpected events like illness, job loss, natural disasters, etc. are a normal part of life and should always be factored into your financial plan. To adequately prepare for the unexpected, consider the following:
- Create an emergency fund with enough money to keep you afloat for three to six months.
- If you have a family, children, or other dependents, consider purchasing a life insurance policy.
- Consider long-term disability insurance, as the odds of becoming disabled before retirement age currently hover around 27% according to the Social Security Administration.
- Discuss the pros and cons of long-term care insurance and property casualty insurance with your financial advisor.
By planning for your future and setting strong financial resolutions, you can begin 2019 on the right foot and make progress towards reaching your financial goals. Take it one step at a time and, if you feel overwhelmed or realize you’d like the opinion of a professional, please contact us for a complimentary consultation.
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4. Social Security Administration