The New Year is a great time to reexamine finance goals, budgets and make positive adjustments with a fresh perspective.
Consider what you hope to achieve in 2022 and a reasonable timeline for each goal. Put a nominal amount next to each goal and then work from your timeline to budget how you can achieve each goal in the timeframe allotted. For example, if your goal is to save $3,000 for an overdue vacation in June, start saving $500/month now!
Create a Will and Trust
Having your wishes documented is important if you have a lot of assets. A trust may also provide your estate some protection. In our new COVID world, having a Health Directive and Power of Attorney is prudent and relatively easy. Many attorneys will provide an initial consultation for free.
Given many of us use credit and debit cards to pay for expenses, many of these banks offer tools to summarize where you spent your money. Look at your 2021 annual report and see if anything stands out. If you notice your meals and entertainment budget is higher than you expected, see where you can trim without hurting too much – perhaps reduce your take-out food or make coffee at home more often?
Review your Subscriptions
Are you paying for a gym membership but you’ve only gone to the gym twice in two years? Do you have a subscription to Netflix, Hulu and Disney+ but you really don’t utilize all three? Automatic payment can be your downfall! Review what you’ve set up and see if it still makes sense.
Pay Yourself First
When I got my first real job, my dad reminded me to “pay myself first.” Take a little out of each paycheck (10%) and put it aside for savings BEFORE you pay your rent/mortgage, utilities, car and entertainment. You can set up a 401k contribution, deducted directly from you paycheck. Pre-tax savings can yield you a tax deduction also! However, any savings vehicle will do!
After you’ve saved three to six months’ worth of living expenses in an emergency fund examine your excess savings and consider if your money can work harder for you. The bank is paying hardly anything these days. Perhaps your excess cash can be invested in a prudent manner that will yield you market rate of returns. Only take as much risk as you feel comfortable with and delegate this to a financial planner unless investing is a side hobby you enjoy.
Happy New Year! I hope 2022 brings you good health, new opportunities, joy, and prosperity!