It’s a new year and there’s no better time to think about resolutions to get on track to meet your financial goals for 2019 and beyond. So let’s jump in with these six financial resolutions:
Understand your net worth.
To help get your financial situation in order, understand your net worth by taking stock of the personal assets you own and the value of those assets (e.g., investment/retirement accounts, bank accounts, real estate, tangible property, and perhaps digital property).
Offset the value of your personal assets with any debt, including mortgages, lines of credit, student loans, and credit card debt to understand your net worth each year.
Pay yourself by making pre-tax (or after-tax) contributions into a retirement savings account each year. If you participate in an employer-sponsored retirement plan, your contribution should at least match the employer’s contribution. The older you are, the more you should contribute to maximize the dollars you are putting into the plan each year.
For those that do not participate in an employer-sponsored plan, there are other individual retirement arrangements, such as IRAs, Simple IRAs, SEP IRAs, and Roth IRAs to contribute to each year.
Create a budget.
Whether you are working or retired, create a budget to help you understand how much you are paying for fixed monthly expenses, such as housing and housing-related costs, food, transportation and fuel, travel and entertainment expenses.
Knowing what you spend on these items monthly may help to identify where you are spending too much and how to reallocate dollars to pay down or pay-off debt, determine how much to withdraw from retirement accounts, or how to prepare for the purchase of a big ticket item.
Create an emergency fund.
Set aside funds in an account to help meet essential monthly expenses, such as housing, utilities, food, and transportation for 3 to 6 months to hedge against sudden job loss, unexpected health care costs, or any other unforeseen family emergency.
Depending on your income and financial resources, an emergency fund can be a cash account you incrementally fund over time, or it can be a pool of assets in a conservatively managed and liquid investment account.
Review your financial plan.
At least annually, review the assets in your retirement portfolio to ensure they are appropriate for the portfolio’s investment strategy, your investment timeframe, and risk tolerance. In addition, review the insurance you have to ensure it is adequate, provides sufficient coverage against loss, and is cost-competitive with other insurance carriers in the marketplace.
Finally, resolve to meet with your attorney to review your estate plan, review the beneficiary designations on retirement accounts, investment accounts, life insurance policies, and how other assets you own will pass on to those individuals or charities you intend to support with your assets.
Collaborate with your financial advisor.
To the extent possible, collaborate with your advisor so he/she will be able to provide advice and guidance on the financial resolutions you have set to achieve each year. In addition, your advisor will help you monitor the progress you are making to reach long-term financial success.
Taking stock of your overall financial situation and having the resolve to achieve short-term and long-term financial goals begins with the resolutions you set for yourself this year and in years to come. After all, small adjustments to your habits can have a big impact on your financial success over time.