4 Simple Ways to Financially Prepare for 2024
January 1, 2024
Setting and pursuing new goals isn’t confined to a calendar. However, there’s a distinct sense of purpose and momentum that accompanies the start of a new year, making it an opportune time to lay the groundwork for the months ahead.
When reflecting on our goals, they often span all facets of life, but financial goals often rank among the top New Year’s goals.
If improving your financial well-being and creating healthy financial habits has been on your agenda, seize this strategic time of year to outline an intentional and purpose-driven approach to your finances!
1. Set Your Financial Goals
When it comes to setting goals, it’s all about envisioning a specific outcome and committing to it with a solid action plan. Dreaming big is encouraged, but the key is pairing those ambitious goals with realistic, actionable steps to increase your likelihood of success and sustain motivation.
Think about what you’d like to achieve by the end of the year and take it one step at a time. Do you need to work on building your emergency fund? Start saving for a down payment on a new home? Max out your retirement accounts for the first time?
It can be helpful to assign a dollar amount and timeframe to your goals. For example, if you want to save a 20% down payment on a $450,000 home within five years, intentionally set aside $1,500 each month instead of making sporadic deposits.
Your goals may shift as your circumstances and the economy change, but it’s better to get started and refine your actions along the way instead of postponing them until you have the “perfect” plan.
2. Review Your Contributions and Transfers
If you have any auto-contributions or auto-transfers set up, now is a good time to review them to ensure they are still in alignment with your financial goals.
When it comes to retirement accounts, contribution limits usually increase annually.
If you’ve been consistently maxing out your accounts, review and adjust your contributions to keep pace with these changes and stay on course.
But don’t stop there.
It’s equally important to occasionally review auto-transfers to your non-retirement accounts. Imagine reaching your emergency fund goal months or years ago but never turning off your contributions. There is such a thing as sitting on too much cash, and it might be time to redirect those hard-earned dollars to optimize their impact.
3. Revise Your Budget
Don’t let another year slip by where you’re essentially throwing away money on unused memberships, subscriptions, and other products or services. An important aspect of achieving your financial goals involves leveraging one of your most valuable tools—your income—with purpose.
Even if you don’t have a formal budget, you can review recent statements from the accounts where you do most of your spending. Identify any expenses that can be eliminated or reduced to free up your cash flow for more intentional spending and to support your financial goals.
If you’re not currently monitoring your spending, consider getting a system in place. With multiple budgeting methods to choose from, you can find one that best suits your needs and preferences.
Remember that budgeting isn’t all about imposing restrictions on your spending; instead, it’s a tool to ensure your spending reflects your values.
4. Get Organized
Making financial progress can be challenging when your financial life is in disarray. Decluttering and organizing your finances may not result in a larger bank account, but it can help you feel less stressed and more confident about your finances (a good return on investing your time and effort!).
Financial Documents: Whether you keep documents digitally or in a traditional file box, it’s easy to fall into the habit of holding onto them, thinking you might need them again someday. However, it’s important to avoid getting bogged down by excessive paperwork.
Certain documents, such as estate planning documents, should be retained indefinitely. However, there are numerous items (tax documents, property records, bank statements, etc.) you can dispose of after a specific period.
Financial Accounts: It’s not unusual to amass multiple financial accounts over time. While each account may have its purpose, managing a large number of accounts at multiple financial institutions can get overwhelming. Simplify your financial portfolio by consolidating or closing unnecessary accounts to ease the burden of tracking your accounts.
Setting the Stage for Financial Success in the New Year and Beyond
As we usher in the New Year, now is the perfect time to bring more intentionality to your finances, and going through these tasks is a simple way to get started. Cheers to a year of making strides toward your biggest financial goals!
The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. We suggest that you discuss your specific situation with your financial advisor prior to investing. All performance referenced is historical and is no guarantee of future results.
Investing in stock includes numerous specific risks including: the fluctuation of dividend, loss of principal and potential illiquidity of the investment in a falling market.
Dollar cost averaging involves continuous investment in securities regardless of fluctuation in price levels of such securities. An investor should consider their ability to continue purchasing through fluctuating price levels. Such a plan does not assure a profit and does not protect against loss in declining markets.
All investing involves risk including loss of principal. No strategy assures success or protects against loss.