The start of a new year is a great time to reassess your financial goals. It doesn’t matter if you’ve been working towards certain goals for years or if it’s your first time setting them. The new year provides a clean slate for you to check-in and make necessary changes to help you get where you want to go.
Create specific, attainable goals
The key to achieving your goals is to make them specific, realistic, and desirable. If a goal meets these three criteria, it is likely that you will be able to make progress towards achieving it.
First, making your goals specific makes them easier to measure and track. Setting a goal of saving $250 every month is a lot easier to monitor than a goal of "saving money." Second, a goal has to be grounded in reality. If you have $50,000 in credit card debt, it likely isn't realistic to make your goal paying off your debt in three months. Finally, goal setting can be a stressful process if you don’t align your goals with what you truly desire. Make sure you choose financial goals that set you up for the future you want.
Common financial goals to consider
Here are some common financial goals that many people like to add to their list, plus examples detailing how you can tailor them to your specific situation:
Create a budget.
- A detailed budget can help you meet your spending and savings goals. It is a short term goal with long term implications.
- Example: Monitor all spending for two months then make a budget that includes all planned cash outflows and inflows.
Become debt free.
- It's never too early to work to pay off your debt. It's a good idea to work with your bank or lenders to make sure the terms of your loans are the best they can be and you have a plan to pay them off.
- Example: Put $300 every month towards credit card debt.
Save money for retirement.
- You can save for retirement with many different types of accounts, including an IRA, a Roth IRA, a 401(k), and even an HSA. All of these accounts offer some type of tax savings, which can help you save even more money.
- Example: Put 3% of income into 401(k) so I can get my employer's full match.
Manage credit cards better.
- Beyond paying off credit card debt, it is also prudent to manage your credit usage well.
- Example: Check the interest rates on all of your cards, monitor your credit score, and redeem rewards points effectively.
Build an emergency fund.
- Many financial experts recommend having at least three to six months of cash saved to cover your regular expenses.
- Example: Set aside $500 in a savings account every month until I reach three months of expenses.
Maintain your goals
Once you're satisfied with your financial goals, it's time to implement them and monitor your progress. If you need help deciding which goals are right for your situation or thinking about financial planning, we recommend talking to a Certified Financial Planner (CFP) or financial advisor. Your financial advisors can help you meet your short term financial goals and your long term financial goals with their expertise.
Reassess and refresh your goals
Personal finance can be a tricky topic for anybody. Once you have gone through the work of setting your own goals, it may be tempting to set them and forget them. However, that is not productive to maintaining a healthy financial future. The best thing you can do is be proactive and monitor your financial goals as you grow, and refresh them as needed.
What if you get a big promotion and your salary increases substantially? Then you likely need to alter how much you're saving for the future and contributing to your retirement accounts. What if you lose your job and experience a decrease in salary? You may need more cash on hand to spend in the short term, so you may need to temporarily alter your contributions to your retirement and savings accounts. There are so many things that can impact your financial situation, so it is very important to stay on top of your financial planning.
The New Year can be a great time to check in with yourself and get a solid sense of where you are and where you want to go. Setting aside time now to take an honest look at your finances can set yourself up for success not just in the new year, but in the years to come. If opening or transferring to a new HSA is part of your financial goals, don’t hesitate to reach out to Lively.
Disclaimer: the content presented in this article are for informational purposes only, and is not, and must not be considered tax, investment, legal, accounting or financial planning advice, nor a recommendation as to a specific course of action. Investors should consult all available information, including fund prospectuses, and consult with appropriate tax, investment, accounting, legal, and accounting professionals, as appropriate, before making any investment or utilizing any financial planning strategy.