“If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there”
― African Proverb
Among the greatest opportunities in entering a new year is the chance to create your own personalized resolution for the next 12 months. For many people this exercise brings about some much needed motivation, while for others it’s simply a useless exercise with no tangible results. While either viewpoint can end up being right or wrong depending on the individual, the bottom line is that a resolution started at any time during the year can produce major changes in our lifestyle. And for that reason almost anyone can benefit from having one, especially when it comes to your finances. Below are some of the key reasons it may be in your best interest to have a financial resolution this year, as well as some concrete ways to create sustainable results.
Your Budget And Cash Flow
Budgeting has proven to be one of the most effective ways of minimizing expenses, avoiding debt, and achieving greater financial stability. Moreover, most financial experts recommend budgeting in order to save up 3 to 6 months of your expenses in an emergency fund. Unfortunately, according to cnbc.com, more than half of Americans have less than $1,000 saved to their name. Therefore, one of the best resolutions you can create for 2019 is an updated monthly budget that reflects your current financial reality. Starting off with something as simple as a handwritten list of income and expenses will allow you to easily review your budget for 15-20 minutes each week. Then as you become more comfortable in this habit you can transition to a more detailed budgeting system (such as an app or online spreadsheet) with a weekly commitment of 30 minutes of review time. Remember that even if you can start saving just small amounts of your monthly income, you will end up far better in the long run than not doing so at all.
Your Life Insurance Protection
Nothing causes quite as much turmoil as being unprepared for the cost of a funeral and the additional financial expenses that follow. Even if you’re diligent in maintaining an effective budget, investment portfolio, or savings plan, the untimely death of a loved one can completely eradicate all of those resources at once. So with that in mind there’s no better time than now to make sure your family is adequately insured and to know all of the coverage options available to you. Start off by first identifying the total amount of life insurance you currently have in place through your employer and any individual insurance policies. From there set a goal of reviewing each of your policies by January 31st to determine if you have enough permanent and/or term insurance in place. Also it’s extremely important to hold yourself accountable for fully understanding your insurance coverage in this process. After all it’s your family’s livelihood at stake not the agent or company selling you the policy.
Your Retirement Plan
Last but not least on the list of priorities for 2019 should be making sure you have a solid long-term investment strategy. No matter how far off retirement may seem right now, the fact is you alone bear the sole responsibility of making sure enough money is invested for the remainder of your life. So it’s important to start by evaluating all of the investment options you have available at your disposal. For example if you have access to a 401k plan, make sure you contribute enough this year to at least get a company match. Or if you choose to invest outside of your company’s plan, make sure you’re getting the full tax advantages of an IRA and/or Roth IRA account. If any of these investment vehicles seem overly confusing for you, seek help from trusted professional in your personal network.
The most important thing to remember in creating your new year’s resolution is that it should never be viewed as a winning vs. losing outcome. Although you may not successfully reach the desired goals you’ve set out for, the true value lies in advancing your personal development in ways you never imagined. Furthermore, financial longevity must become a product of your daily, weekly, and monthly goal-setting process which includes making necessary adjustments all throughout the rest of the year.