By Kelley Caponigro
Assistant to the Chairman & CEO
Although we are a few weeks into the New Year, the pressure to eat healthier, improve yourself, volunteer, and spend more time with family is still palpable. New Year’s resolutions have been around since Babylonian times, and at the start of the 21st century in the United States nearly 40% of people formed resolutions.1 Perhaps you have already fallen off the “resolutions” bandwagon, but we urge you to get back on with some realistic financial goals for 2017.
- It’s so easy to slide a credit or debit card to pay for everything. Try using cash more often in 2017, and keep any change you get back in a big container or jar. By the end of the year, all that leftover change will add up.
- If you’re not already contributing to a company 401(k), it’s time to sign up. Even if you can only contribute 1% of your paycheck to this account, your future-self will thank you for it. In addition, if you receive a raise in 2017, vow to bump the contribution up to 5%.
Put Your Savings on Auto-Pilot.
- If you wait to push the “save” button yourself, you’ll likely never save a penny. If you set up automatic savings – whether it’s in a savings account or an investment account – you won’t be tasked with remembering to save, and you won’t have a chance to spend the money.
- Think about your holiday spending this past year and estimate how much you might need to spend next year. Divide that amount by 12 months, and start automatically adding that amount into your savings account so that holiday shopping in 2017 won’t break the bank.
Track Your Spending.
- Even if you only track your spending for one month – having a grasp on where your paycheck is disbursed can be a huge eye opener. It’s not always fun, but apps like Mint and Level Money, or downloading our free Budget Worksheet, can make it easier to keep track of your cash. Once you see how much you spend on certain things each month (i.e. dining out, new clothes) perhaps you’ll think twice before your next purchase.
Meet with a Financial Advisor.
- This can sound daunting, but if money management and investing are not your forte, it’s a good idea to hire an experienced professional. Most people don’t think twice about working with a professional in other areas of their life – like visiting the dentist or hiring a licensed electrician. Hiring a certified advisor to assist with your financial life is no different. Ask your friends and family who they trust, or simply Google “fee-only, fiduciary advisor” and your zip code. Spend a few minutes on the company’s Web site and schedule a quick phone call to see if there’s any compatibility. Most advisors will offer a no cost, no obligation consultation, so there’s nothing to lose by scheduling a preliminary meeting.
Cheers to 2017! Best of luck on maintaining your resolutions, and remember that small steps can add up to big changes.