Goal setting and planning are the cornerstones of financial success.
- The first step is to review your financial goals so you know what to focus on this year.
- A great way to stay on top of your finances is to create a budget and net worth report.
- A financial plan will help you reach your financial goals and track your progress.
The start of a new year is the perfect time to renew and take charge of your finances. Whether you’re just starting your career or have been playing for a while, everyone should ask themselves three important questions about their finances.
- Where do I want to go?
- where am i now
- How will I get there?
By following this checklist, you can answer these questions and make 2023 your best financial year yet.
1. Determine your financial goals
Setting your financial goals answers the first question. Without first determining what your financial goals are, there will be nothing to work towards or focus on. Your financial goals help keep you on track and motivated when the going gets tough. Take the time to write them down and post them somewhere easy to see.
You can even break them down by short term, medium term and long term. Long-term goals may include retirement at a certain age; medium-term goal of saving for housing; and a short-term goal may be to save enough for your emergency fund. Make your goals SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-Based) and share your goals with others so they can help keep you accountable.
2. Create a budget and net worth report
This answers the second question, “Where are you now?” Just like a GPS tracker, you need to know exactly where you are right now so you know the way to reach your goal. Creating a budget and net worth report isn’t as daunting as it sounds. In fact, it’s one of the most important steps you can take in planning your financial future.
A budget helps you keep track of your income and expenses so you know exactly where your money is going each month. It also allows you to plan ahead and prioritize how much money you want to save each month. Your net worth statement is a list of your assets (cash, investments, property, etc.) and your liabilities (credit card debt, loans, mortgages, etc.).
When you have a clear picture of your finances, it will be easier for you to make informed decisions about your spending habits and what obligations to reduce so that you can reach your financial goals.
3. Create a financial plan
Now that you know where you want to go and where you are financially now, you can create a financial strategy and plan to get there. Let’s say you want to retire at age 50, living on $50,000 a year (your goal). If you are currently in your 30s and have just paid for your education, but have little savings (budget and net worth), how much do you need to save? The answer will depend on a variety of factors, but using the 4% retirement rule and assuming a 10% annual return, you’ll need to save about $1,600 per month (how you’re going to get it) to reach your goal. Can’t afford it? Then you may have to adjust your goals. This is why knowing your budget and net worth is so important!
Saving money should be at the top of everyone’s list when it comes to their financial future. Start with creation of an emergency fund. It’s always good to have a little money saved for unexpected expenses or emergencies. Then work to create long-term savings goals and maxing your retirement accounts. You should also consider setting aside extra funds each month for particularly large purchases, such as cars, vacations, or home repairs, so that these items don’t become too much of a financial burden.
Any financial plan will have to address paying off debt as quickly as possible. Credit cards, car payments, and other debts all add up quickly if not settled immediately. The sooner they are paid off, the more money you will have available each month to save. Consider consolidating any high-interest debt into one lower-interest loan to make it easier to keep up with your payments and manage your overall debt level.
As part of your financial plan, don’t forget to look at your insurance coverage. Do you have enough life insurance, home insurance, and other types of coverage? Do you need a will or estate plan for your beneficiaries? Addressing these issues is also an important aspect of your plan and will help give you more peace of mind.
Making small changes now can lead to big results later. This checklist provides just a few simple steps that anyone can take today to create a secure financial future. Your plan will help you track your progress toward your goals. So why wait? Start taking control of your finances now and prepare for success in 2023. With this checklist in mind, there’s nothing stopping you from reaching your financial goals this year!
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