The start of the year often brings out optimism, hope, and expectations of what a great next 12 months could look like. New Year’s resolutions – getting out of debt, saving a certain amount, buying a house, traveling more, getting the promotion, etc. – all give people something to strive for. However, just like health clubs and gyms, January and February are great, but then life starts happening and people fall off track.
If you are one of the people who may have fallen off track, gotten stuck, or even if you feel you are still on the right path, take this time to make sure things are tracking as you had hoped or that your goals haven’t shifted.
Below I have compiled the top eleven financial (and life) questions to ask yourself to ensure 2018 is still going to be your best year yet!
- What financial goals did you have for 2018? This is a given, but go ahead, get them back out or write them down again.
- How far off are you from the ones you haven’t hit? Is your savings goal $20,000 and you have $8,000 – that just means you need to save $2,400 per month for the rest of the year. Even if you don’t hit it, you can still come pretty close. Learn from it and improve next year.
- Do you know how much it takes for you or your family to live each month? I’m talking all-in expenses. You will be surprised. I can’t believe how much it takes Kayla and I to live, and we don’t even have kids (aside from the DOOD-le, Oban).
- Are there ways for you to lower your interest rates on debt or lower your payments? Look at your car loans, credit card balance transfers, refi-mortgage, it might make sense to extend your term to free up cash flow pressures, etc.
- Did you adjust your withholdings/allowances with the new tax changes? The federal tax rates dropped for 2018.* If you owed last year, decrease the number of allowances you had on your W4. If you received a BIG refund, increase the number of allowances so they don’t take as much out each paycheck and hold on to YOUR money interest free for a year (if you would have had it for 2017, you could have invested and possibly earned some money! The S&P returned 20+% last year).**
- Do you have the right amount of money in your Emergency Fund/Reserve Fund? I often see families have a number in mind, hit it, and then change the number after a few years. That’s because lifestyle creep is a real thing, and your reserve funds need to reflect that.
- Have you consolidated or updated your insurance policies and legal documents? This could be two separate things, but it all falls into asset protection. Has a family situation changed (new child, grown child, caring for parents, wedding, etc.)? If so, or if it has been years, it might make sense to update your wills and legal documents. When is the last time you reviewed your insurance policies? Don’t wait until your premiums hike or your coverage runs out to re-evaluate. It is cheaper and more advantageous to do all of that sooner rather than later.
- Have you invested in yourself for 2018? This will be the biggest return you ever see. Your education, your time, your financial confidence, all those things can grow exponentially when you invest in yourself – and the money should follow.
- Speaking of investments, are you being compensated appropriately for the level of risk you are taking in your account? If you are generating high returns, that is great. But are you taking too much risk to get there? What if you could take less risk and generate similar returns?
- Where do you want to be a year from now? Let’s go ahead and get a jump on 2019 (or at least the first half of it) and set some goals. Push yourself; don’t be lazy.
- If money were irrelevant, what would you do with your time each day? This gets into regrets people have later in life too. Think about what makes you the happiest and how you can make money doing that. Maybe do something a few hours on the side each week.
Are you asking yourself the right questions? As you can see, there are always a lot of moving parts within your personal finances. It can be valuable to have a coach or someone to review to ensure your decisions are coordinated and working cohesively to get you on the right track towards your goals.
Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and let’s get you on the right path as soon as possible. You’ll will be glad you did!
* Guardian, its subsidiaries, agents, and employees do not provide tax, legal, or accounting advice. Consult your tax, legal, or accounting professional regarding your individual situation.
** S&P 500 Index is a market index generally considered representative of the stock market as a whole. The index focuses on the large-cap segment of the U.S. equities market. Always include the following statement: Indices are unmanaged and one cannot invest directly in an index. Past performance is not a guarantee of future results.