Did you make New Year’s resolutions for 2019? Various surveys estimate that greater than 60% of resolutions are broken by February. By the time you read this there is a good chance you’re on your way to breaking some of those resolutions! Experts suggest various processes for making and keeping resolutions, but all seem to have the common themes of:
- Start small – choose something doable and meaningful to you.
- Create a plan – determine how you will achieve your resolution.
- Flexibility – when life gets in the way and presents hurdles, adapt and modify your plan with the end goal in mind.
- Find support – embrace a community that helps keep you accountable and limit the negative influences that make change hard.
- Be kind to yourself – you may miss your goal, but that doesn’t mean you’ve failed. Be kind to yourself if you need to make a second, third, or fourth attempt at reaching your goal.
At CCMI, we hope you include personal financial goals as part of those resolutions for the year. Here are several financial fitness suggestions to consider implementing during 2019:
Set up a “systematic spending plan”
Manage your expenses by using programs such as Mint.com or Quicken. Having a realistic budget in place is key to becoming financially successful. Knowing where your money is going and setting limits on where you spend is the most important step to financial peace of mind. (If you are married, you and your spouse both need to participate in this exercise.)
Reduce consumer debt
Vow to retire the most expensive debt as quickly as possible. First make a list of all of your loan balances and the corresponding interest rates. Attack the highest interest rate debt first. Consider using money from your savings, which probably has a low annual percentage yield (APY) and are earning next to nothing, to pay off the highest interest rate credit cards, student loans or other consumer loans. Once the debts are paid, use the cash flow that was allocated to paying debt to build up your savings again. Vow not to charge anything on a credit card that you cannot pay for in full when the credit card bill arrives next month!
Participate in employer-sponsored retirement plans
By keeping debt under control and staying within your budget, you can afford to defer some of your wages into a tax-sheltered retirement plan such as a 401(k) or 403(b) plan. Consider contributing at least enough to obtain the maximum matching amount from your employer. Resolve to continue saving until the day you retire.
Save for rainy day
Financial advisors recommend having a minimum of three months of living expenses in a money market or savings account. Once you have accomplished this, with as little as $50 per month, you can set up automatic withdrawals from your bank account and dollar cost average into a no load mutual fund company each month.
Save for a child’s education
Look into a 529 education savings plan. Many 529 plans allow you to initiate an account with as little as $25. Check the Saving for College website (www.savingforcollege.com) to get details about your state plan. The appreciation and future withdrawals for qualified education costs of the beneficiary are exempt from taxes.
Review your estate plan
Make sure your will, trust, advance medical directive and powers of attorney are current and reflect your wishes.
Review your insurance
Do you have the right amounts and types of coverage? What happens to premiums if you increase deductible limits? Are there risks to which you are exposed that need to be addressed by insurance? Are the named beneficiaries correct?
Become better educated about money and finances
Consider reading one book or magazine a month on money and finances. Learn about recent changes to the tax laws or another topic that may impact you in the coming year. You will find informative blog posts on a variety of financial topics on CCMI’s blog which you can find by clicking here.
Resolve to delve into your employment benefits so you understand them thoroughly and make sure your spouse/family/significant other understands them too.
So, what financial goals will you achieve in 2019 and what changes will you make to help reach them? By focusing on just one of the above areas, you can become a bit more financially fit this year. If you need help in improving your financial fitness in 2019 or have questions on our suggestions, please reach out to the CCMI team to see how we can help.
CCMI provides personalized fee-only financial planning and investment management services to business owners, professionals, individuals and families in San Diego and throughout the country. CCMI has a team of CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNERTM professionals who act as fiduciaries, which means our clients’ interests always come first.
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