Disclaimer: I wrote this article in early January 2017, but this information should still provide value.
As we head towards Dow 20,000 and turn the page on 2016, now is the perfect time to map out your financial resolutions for the New Year and beyond. Here are a few suggestions for making 2017 healthy, happy and successful:
Create emergency savings
Life is full of unexpected emergencies, and having extra cash on hand can help keep a serious illness, home repair, or other sudden financial need from derailing your finances. Prepare for unpredictable expenses by putting aside the equivalent of three to six months of expenditures.
Make a monthly budget and stick to it
Budgets may sound like a lot of unnecessary work, especially if you’re financially comfortable. But if you’re not tracking your spending, you may be surprised by how quickly it adds up – and which expenses are costing you the most. As 2017 begins, set a budget and work on sticking to it for three months. Track your performance and revise the budget, as needed. Don’t aim for perfection, instead, try for incremental improvement.
Save more for the future
Creating a disciplined savings strategy is an important way to stay on track for your retirement and other goals. We recommend keeping separate “buckets” of savings for short- and long-term goals.
Make retirement plan contributions regularly (instead of all at once)
Even if you’re diligently saving, you may be among the 71% of Americans who haven’t put aside enough money for retirement. One key change you can make is to take advantage of “time in the market”. Instead of waiting until the last minute to make your annual contributions, give your money more time to potentially grow by making automatic contributions to your account every month. (Source: Washington Post)
Maximize your retirement-plan contributions
Tax-managed retirement accounts are one of the most powerful ways to save for a more comfortable retirement, because they allow you to control your tax liabilities today – while potentially accumulating assets for the future. Make the most of these accounts by contributing as much as you can.
Pay down high-interest debt
Did you know that 54% of Americans believe they will never pay off their debts? Don’t let high interest debt keep you from getting ahead financially. If you’re carrying a significant amount of debt, make paying it down a top priority. (Source: Associated Press)
Create a powerful legacy for the world
We believe that a rich life involves more than financial success and a comfortable lifestyle. Whether you want to leave something to your loved ones or support causes you care about, take time to address the legacy you’d like to leave.
Review your estate planning and legal documents
Your core legal documents need regular reviews to ensure they keep up with any changes in your life. If a few years have passed since you looked at your documents, dust them off and make sure that they still represent your wishes.
Stay on top of your health
Healthcare is a major expense for most Americans, especially if serious illness strikes. Take steps to protect your well-being by building a healthy lifestyle and prioritizing preventative care.
Involve your children and grandchildren in your finances
Fostering financial wisdom is a powerful way to help your children and grandchildren build a solid, stable life – and help ensure you’re able to pass on your values and wealth in the future. Rather than keeping your finances private from your loved ones, we recommend including them in conversations about your goals and priorities.
Think long-term, not short-term. Recently, we’ve spoken to many clients who want to ride the post-election growth train. Just as we’re here to help you from despairing when stocks tumble, we also want to help control the euphoria when markets rally. This has been a narrow rally, and rallies don’t usually continue forever. Impulsive choices can challenge your long-term objectives. As always, it’s important to take the right amount of risk for your unique circumstances and stay focused on the long-term goals that we are pursuing together.
Have a Safe and Happy New Year!
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