We hope that at least one or two financial goals made it on to your New Year’s Resolutions list. Studies indicate that, in addition to getting in shape physically, whipping finances into shape is often a part of many American’s resolutions. We share some of our favorite tools and techniques for staying on track in today’s post.
- Use technology to your advantage. The number of quality, free websites designed to help you manage your money is astounding. Pick the one that works for you, whether it’s simple or complex, free or has a cost. The key is to find the one that best meets your needs. We like Mint, Wave, or Yodlee.
- Get on the same page and work together. If you’re part of a couple, you already know the challenges of seeing eye-to-eye on household finances. However, to be successful, couples need to work together to achieve goals. If professional guidance would help, consider looking for coaching from credit counselors, community resources, or a financial planner. Coloradoans who need help cleaning up debt may wish to contact mpowered, a great local resource. Those looking for a planner can utilize the free search tools of the Financial Planning Association or of the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards at www.LetsMakeAPlan.org.
- Become spending plan literate. You can’t plan if you don’t know the details of where your money goes on a day-to-day, month-to-month basis. Get intimate with your spending. Take the time to review your 2014 spending by pulling up bank statements and credit card statements. If you know where the money leaks out, you’re better able to plug the holes. Then, create a spending plan. We have a great template available on our website, www.WisdomWS.com in the resources section. Halfway through the year, review and revise your plan.
- Pay attention. Improving your financial condition can’t be a once-a-year activity. It requires consistent monitoring and adjustment. Review all of your accounts and statements at least monthly. Electronic delivery of statements has been cost-saving, organizationally helpful, and environmentally responsible, but it makes it easy to neglect account reviews. Don’t fall into the habit of ignoring your accounts for an entire year.
- Save consistently. One of the reasons 401(k) and other work-sponsored plans work so well is that the savings take place immediately, without action or thought on the part of the participant. Automatic contribution plans are by-far our favorite strategy for helping clients make sure they meet their annual savings goals. Treat the savings portion of your financial plan as seriously as you would your home mortgage. Schedule repeating contributions to your savings and investment accounts so you never miss a month.
We wish you great financial success in 2015 and look forward to being a resource to you throughout the year. If we can be of service to you, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us.