A new year is upon us, and with it comes an opportunity to recommit to our financial goals. Where should we begin? Top financial experts share their top resolutions below. Perhaps one or more will inspire you to make a change to meet your goals in 2023.
Make a Budget
Your success this year rests on having a solid budget that takes into account all income, expenses and investments. If the idea of being buried in paperwork to figure this out and to track it is overwhelming, consider a software program like Quicken, or websites and apps like Mint.com, You Need a Budget or PocketGuard. Check out U.S. News and Word Reports top financial websites and apps here (link to https://money.usnews.com/money/personal-finance/saving-and-budgeting/slideshows/best-budget-apps) for some ideas.
Save A Little Every Month
Part of your budgeting process should be to make a plan to grow your emergency fund and savings account, even if it means just putting a little bit of money aside each month. If saving money is a struggle, use an app like Acorn.com that rounds up each purchase and automatically saves the change to your account. A little here and there can amount to a nice nest egg come December.
Pay Yourself First
When your paycheck hits your account, the first thing to do, according to financial experts, is to pay yourself. This means devoting a percentage of your take-home pay to savings, whether it be a retirement account, your emergency fund or your savings account. By committing to an amount every month, you’ll continue to grow your savings, plus you’ll be forced to accommodate your monthly expenses within what is left. As your income grows, so too can the amount you save. The end result is a secure financial future and money to tackle whatever emergencies may pop up along the way.
Evaluate your Eating Out Budget
The typical American family eats out at least two to three times a week. That includes trips to the drive-thru and sit down meals. Make a plan to cut your dining out budget in half in 2022 and save that money instead. By doing this, you could end up saving enough money to pay for your family vacation or finance a big ticket item you’ve been dreaming about.
Review Your Subscriptions
Spend some time this month reviewing all of your online subscriptions, including your streaming services, auto ship plans, etc. You may be surprised how many you continue to pay for after the “free trial” period has ended, but that you are no longer using. Saving money on subscriptions can also add up by the end of the year, making it even easier to achieve your financial goals.
You are never too young to start investing, and consistency over time is key to a big payoff in your retirement years. Commit to investing the same amount every month in a retirement plan, stocks or other financial investment vehicles, no matter what the stock market is doing. By investing a little bit each month over time, you’ll experience the power of compounding interest, and your savings will grow a lot faster than in a traditional savings account.
Make a Will
Having a will is important in that it will protect your assets once you pass away. If you don’t already have a will, make 2022 the year you have one written by either a qualified attorney or by using an online resource like Quicken Willmaker & Trust or LegalZoom.
Analyze Your Insurance
Take the beginning of the year as a great time to analyze your insurance choices and make changes. Aside from evaluating your health insurance choices during your carrier’s open enrollment period, take a good look at your homeowners and auto insurance. Are you paying for more coverage than you need? Do you need more coverage? Contact your agent and make the necessary changes, and check into bundling your policies for additional savings.
Pay Down Debt
If you are in your 30s or older and are not debt-free, now is the time to make some financial sacrifices to pay down your debt in order to enjoy financial freedom. By cutting your expenses and applying that money to your debt, you’ll be making the ultimate step toward a positive financial future.
Cut the Cord on Cable
If you’re still holding out, it’s time to cut the cord in 2023. Paying for cable is a large monthly expense that’s easy to replace with less expensive streaming services. Do a little research to find the ones that match your viewing habits — such as live sports or first-run movies. And be sure to take advantage of free trials to see which services meet your needs.
Update Your W4
While a big tax refund this spring would be nice, instead, reevaluate and update your W4 employee withholding. You may find that you are withholding too much. This will mean more money in your paycheck that you can use each month to accomplish your financial goals.
Start a 529 Plan
Start saving early and be in a position to deal with rising college costs by starting a 529 plan. These accounts offer federal tax-free growth if used for the proper expenses. Why not save your money for your children’s future and save on your taxes at the same time?
Don’t forget that Allegius has resources available to help you with your financial goals. Tap into our financial partner, Brad Werner and Asssociates, for advice that’s free to all Allegius members. Learn more at https://www.allegius.org/advice-planning/financial-planning-investments.html.