New Year’s Resolution Financial Tips & Resources
Updated: Jan 17
The start of a new year brings the popular tradition of making resolutions. Maybe you want to get fit and healthy, or pick up a new hobby; whatever your personal goals may be, make sure to include improving your financial health on the list!
Setting a few financial goals and making small changes can go a long way. The first step I recommend is to know what you want; whether it be paying down your credit card or increasing your retirement savings. Setting clear goals increases the likelihood of success, and as most of us know, New Year’s resolutions are hard to keep. Here are few resolutions to consider adding to your list –
Track your finances digitally
You can access all three platforms right from our website. This is top on our the list because going digital will help you track your finances and reach the rest of your goals. A lot of people don’t want to see the details of their spending patterns, but that’s the first step! Many of our clients have heard us talk about a financial tool we offer called eMoney. This site can be an incredibly useful tracking tool to track your spending habits and set financial goals. Progress can be easily viewed and can also be collaborative with our office, if you wish. If you have not taken advantage of this site or need a refresher, please reach out and let us know.
Create a budget and do a financial plan
The idea of starting a financial plan is daunting to most, but it doesn’t have to be! Financial planning is part of our comprehensive services and we can guide you through the process, so give us a call if you are interested in starting a plan. We encourage all of our clients to take advantage, no matter what stage of life you are in. Using a digital tool like eMoney can also help do a lot of the work for you, so that you can compare what you’re spending to your income.
Prioritize and pay down debt
This resolution is important, especially if you are carrying credit card or student loan debt. Be strategic by making a list of your debt and pay those with the highest interest rates first. If your only debt is a mortgage, this is a larger discussion that we’re happy to have with you. If you’re interested, please contact me to set up a time and together, we’ll determine whether making extra payments to pay down your principal balance makes sense based on your unique financial situation.
Automatic savings can increase your chances of achieving this goal. If you have a workplace retirement account, consider increasing your deferral if you are not already maxxing out. If you have an IRA, we can set-up an automatic investment plan from your bank account. There are new contribution limits for 2018 – for retirement savings plans an increase from $18,000 to $18,500 ($24,500 if you are over age 50). For the self-employed and small business owners, the amount you can save in a SEP IRA or Solo 401(k) goes up from $54,000 to $55,000. There are no changes to contribution limits for IRA accounts, so that stays at $5,500 ($6,500 over age 50). If you want to start doing automatic savings in a non-retirement account, that can be done easily and it forces you to follow through with doing it as the funds are automatically withdrawn from your bank account before you can spend it.
Review estate documents
Now is a good time to reflect on the past year and any life changes. If you’ve had any major life events, make an appointment to speak with your attorney to see if an update to your estate plan is in order. Not only should you make sure you have the proper legal documents in order, but make sure you take the extra step and work with our office to update beneficiary designations, account registrations, etc.
Why wait until the end of the year? If you donate annually to your favorite charities, plan for giving throughout the year and consider doing so through a donor-advised fund (DAF) such as the Fidelity Charitable Giving Account. Donating securities with a low-cost basis is a great strategy, and allows you to receive an immediate deduction while potentially growing that donation tax-free to provide greater support to your favorite charities. If you are interested in learning more about this strategy, let us know. When gifting to family members and friends, the annual exclusion amount has been increased from $14,000 to $15,000.
As we head into 2018, take one step at a time! Focus on creating healthy new habits, and reach out to us if there is anything we can do to make the process easier. We’re happy to help and ready to work with you to come up with a game plan.
Wishing you much health and happiness in the upcoming year!