Does your year-end financial checklist look like this?
- Update beneficiaries
- Contribute to childrens’ 529 plans before December 31
- Use Flexible Spending Account (FSA) money before it expires in December or January
Let’s be honest here. Housekeeping tasks like these are necessary…but they’re also pretty boring, like going to the dentist or getting an oil change for your car. But what if your financial to-do list put you closer toward the goals that are most meaningful to you in the year ahead?
Identify what is truly important to you.
Take stock of the year.
Automate and simplify.
Find the tools you need.
Just Do It!
These to-dos can be done without paperwork, running around town, or spending too much time, and we think you'll be a lot more excited about getting them done than the "housekeeping" list.
We hope these steps will help give you the push you need toward a great New Year. Let's get into how you can achieve them.
1. Identify what is truly important to you.
Whether it’s family, new experiences, or a feeling of security, this is what drives the decisions you make. Always be aware of this and don’t let yourself stray in a direction that leads you farther away from these core values.
2. Take stock of the year.
How does your financial position compare to 2015? 2014? 2008? One simple way to compare is to look at your net worth (your assets minus your liabilities or debts) once all of your final statements for 2016 come in. Is your spending bringing you closer or farther away from what you find truly important in life? Have you made progress in 2016to shrink debts and increase assets, or do you need to make changes for 2017? Be honest with yourself about what is really within your control (ie. saving, spending) versus what is not within your control (market performance, other people’ actions).
3. Automate and simplify.
Once you’ve identified where you might need to make changes, break it down into achievable steps—and make those changes as easy for yourself as possible. For example, we always recommend automating savings and billpay. It takes just a few minutes and can save a lot of hassle!
4. Find the tools you need.
However, not all aspects of your financial life can go completely on autopilot, so you may need additional “tools.” Which areas of your financial life are a source of friction or even conflict? Are there ways to smooth the ride, either with online tools, the help of experts, or tricks like giving each spouse a “fun” fund that they are allowed to spend or save as they please? Below are a few of the tools that Halpern Financial employees use themselves or that have been recommended to us:
- Mint.com: budgeting, monitoring and simple net worth overview
- SmartyPig: treats saving as just another bill
- FamZoo: for childrens’ allowance
5. Just Do It!
By this point you probably have some ideas about adjustments to put yourself and your family in a better place next December. Hopefully you feel motivated by core values you hold dear. But what about tomorrow? Will you be taking action or holding off to a better time?
Chances are, those adjustments you’re thinking of won’t happen without a concrete plan and the motivation to carry it through.
At Halpern Financial we can help you to craft and achieve your financial plan for 2017 and onward.
IMPORTANT DISCLOSURE INFORMATION
Please remember that past performance may not be indicative of future results. Different types of investments involve varying degrees of risk, and there can be no assurance that the future performance of any specific investment, investment strategy, or product (including the investments and/or investment strategies recommended or undertaken by Halpern Financial, Inc.), or any non-investment related content, made reference to directly or indirectly in this blog will be profitable, equal any corresponding indicated historical performance level(s), be suitable for your portfolio or individual situation, or prove successful. Due to various factors, including changing market conditions and/or applicable laws, the content may no longer be reflective of current opinions or positions. Moreover, you should not assume that any discussion or information contained in this blog serves as the receipt of, or as a substitute for, personalized investment advice from Halpern Financial, Inc. To the extent that a reader has any questions regarding the applicability of any specific issue discussed above to his/her individual situation, he/she is encouraged to consult with the professional advisor of his/her choosing. Halpern Financial, Inc. is neither a law firm nor a certified public accounting firm and no portion of the blog content should be construed as legal or accounting advice. A copy of the Halpern Financial, Inc.’s current written disclosure statement discussing our advisory services and fees is available for review upon request.