You started the year with such good intentions. But did you write down the most important things to accomplish in 2024, financially. Did you set some goals? Or were those fleeting ideas that faded with the New Year’s hangover.
There’s an old Savage Truth: “A goal without a plan is just a dream.” So it’s not too late to get started on setting –and acting upon – your financial goals for the New Year. Here are my suggestions, but feel free to create your own.
1. Figure out how to earn more money in 2024. Let’s start with the most optimistic task. The best way to solve all financial problems and sleep better at night is to get more money. Take a mental survey of your time and talents – and put them to better use in the year ahead. Small amounts add up. It could be a side gig using technology or a basic traditional job, such as being a helper to an elderly senior who can’t drive. But, stop wasting your time this year. Instead, turn your time into money.
2. Know what you owe! The bills are just coming in from your holiday shopping – and previous spending. This doesn’t have to be complicated. Pile them up. Then take out a sheet of paper and write down the name of each card, the current balance, the current monthly minimum payment – and the interest rate!
If you used those delayed purchase services like Klarna, Affirm, or AfterPay, make a separate list of when the next payments are due, and the amount of each.
3. Set up a spending plan. In recent columns, I wrote about Quicken Simplifi and Rocket, as well as other apps that can give you instant knowledge about your finances, as well as setting up spending controls. They only work if you get started!
4. Increase your Retirement Savings. Talk to your HR department about increasing your 40l(k) contributions. And certainly try to contribute enough to get the full employer match. Don;’t say you can’t “afford” it. Another Savage Truth: “If you don’t see it, you won’t spend it!”
If you don’t have a retirement plan at work, contact Fidelity or Vanguard and set up an Individual Retirement Account. You can have monthly contributions deducted automatically from your checking account!
5. Know your investments. With the stock market ending the year at all-time highs, it’s likely that your retirement plan has grown dramatically. Is it time to rebalance, moving some profits from tech stocks to more conservative dividend-paying stocks or equity-income funds? Simplifi will make that task easier – across both retirement and non-retirement accounts.
6. Plan for your 2024 RMD. Your required minimum distribution (if age 73 or older) is based on the year-end 2023 balance in all your pre-tax retirement accounts. Save those year-end statements, add up the total balances, and write that amount down. Then you can immediately calculate this year’s RMD by inputting the total in the calculator at one of your custodians’ websites or at AARP.org. Decide if you want to take a monthly withdrawal, and be sure to have appropriate tax withheld.
7. Check your subscriptions and other monthly payments. You can save a small fortune by cancelling unused media and other monthly bills. Search your PayPal history or on your credit card statements for those small, hidden, and automatic payments. It’s easy to cancel once you find them – and the Rocket app will help you do that.
8. Save money on your car insurance. Check with your insurer about low-mileage discounts or safe driver apps that connect your driving style to benefits or lower monthly premiums. Make sure you bundled your car insurance with homeowners or renters insurance, to collect any available discounts.
9. Get some trusted advice. Set up just one meeting with a fee-only, FIDUCIARY, financial planner to go over your entire financial picture, not only your investments. Find one you can trust at Wealthramp.com.
10. Start the year with an organized financial life by downloading the Personal Financial Organizer form at TerrySavage.com in the top right corner of the home page. Filling it out will help you fill in the holes in your plan.
Stop wishing everyone else a Happy New Year. Instead act to create one for yourself. Actions work better than wishes. And that’s The Savage Truth.