The beginning of a new year is a time for reflection, regrouping, and resolutions. We determine a more purposed direction for many areas in our life, including family, health, career, and finance. Prospective Vision Solutions LLC, Financial Coaching & Services (PVS) is here to assist you with your 2023 financial goals. PVS will improve your knowledge of financial literacy and guide you to a prosperous and fulfilling future.
This blog contains five essential stepping stones to kick start and/or strengthen your 2023 financial resolutions and secure your financial future. Please set aside time to read each one and envision what actions you can put in place to execute them and accomplish the financial milestones that you have set.
Create a budget
Before you can name or prioritize financial goals, you must list each of your expenses—current and future and list every avenue of incoming assets (earnings, investments, passive income, alimony and or child support, etc.). On a sheet of paper or an Excel spreadsheet, create a column for each, side by side if possible, so you can see exactly what you are working with—what you have coming in and what is going out. Be mindful that not only do you have fixed expenses such as rent/mortgage or a car payment, but you also have variable expenses that change month to month, such as dining out or anything you purchase from a store. For each variable expense, be sure to input a reasonable figure that will cover it. I would suggest monitoring what you spend on these items over a month’s time and adjusting your budget as needed. Also, include in your listing of expenses an amount to designate to savings. If you look at the figures and think that your current outgoing amounts to more than your incoming, either revisit your budget later and include this amount or take a leap and put a minimal amount to it. As time passes, you will be surprised to find that you can live without that amount after all!
Once you have a listing of your expenses and assets, create a budget that is realistic and doable. A budget is an allotment of funds and a plan of operation. Keep in mind that a budget is essential for managing your money and building a monetary lifestyle in which you can live free of financial worry and able to deal with the financial issues that life throws at you with ease. Monitor the budget that you have set and tweak it as necessary.
Pay off unsecured debt
Unsecured debt includes credit cards, medical bills, personal loans, and student loans. Unsecured debts are not assets and prevent you from building a financially strong lifestyle. Unsecured debt drains your budget. Research and list the terms of each unsecured debt that you have—What is the interest rate? Which have a variable or fixed interest rate? Because unsecured debt with higher interest rates accrue more debt daily/monthly, it is best to attack paying these off first and with a vengeance. Revisit your budget and look for areas that you can trim in order to devote those dollars toward paying unsecured debt off more quickly.
In regard to the most common unsecured debt, credit cards, learn to incorporate in your spending practices the slogan, cash and carry. Credit cards are a financial trap, and more so when they carry a high-interest rate. Credit cards should only be used in the case of an emergency and you have no other alternative. When considering making a transaction with a credit card, practice having the means to pay it in full when you receive the statement or before.
Build your assets
Build your monetary assets by building an Emergency Fund, which is a safety net in the case of the curve balls that life throws you. An Emergency Fund should consist of enough funds to cover three months’ worth of fixed expenses. One never knows when a job layoff, a debilitating injury or illness, or a totaled car may occur; therefore, it is best to be prepared in the event of such an occurrence. Another way to build monetary assets is by investing. Roth IRAs are ideal because you contribute after-tax dollars, and after the age of 59½, you can generally make tax- and penalty-free withdrawals. This will entail your tightening up on that budget and directly more cash flow to Savings.
Again, build toward your assets as your budget allows—start with a small amount and funnel more as unsecured debt decreases and incoming increases. Taking on a side hustle is something to consider in order to up the amount of income in your budget.
Maintain your assets
Set up a regular maintenance schedule for your home, car, rental property, etc. It is so easy to overlook the care of these items because everything looks and is working fine; however, taking the time to regularly have the oil changed in your vehicle, clean out the gutters, change the furnace filter, service the outdoor heating/cleaning unit and water heater, fertilize the shrubs, trim the trees…will preserve these items as well as prevent costly repairs or replacement due to their neglect.
Review your credit reports quarterly. Set up regular intervals to check/balance your accounts, including bank accounts, retirement plans, and investment portfolios. Update your budget as needed.
Since the unfortunate onset of the pandemic, COVID, in latter 2019, it has brought new meaning to the saying, tomorrow is not promised. Therefore, estate planning is important. Anyone that owns anything of monetary value (i.e., home, property, business, four-wheeler, investments) or sentimental value (i.e., photo albums, clothing, keepsakes) should include estate planning on their to-do list. It protects you and your assets, informs you of your final wishes, gives you peace of mind, and it also protects your loved ones. So, it is time to create or update your Living will and power of attorney (POA) document, Last Will and Testament. Life is unpredictable, be prepared in the event of any unforeseen occurrence.
A POA document authorizes someone to act on your behalf. Keep in mind the risks of granting someone this authority—they will have a great deal of authority over your finances, they might pressure you for authority or a decision that you do not want to give, and they may spend your money on themselves instead of you. Therefore, think and think again before deciding on a power of attorney; be sure that the person is responsible, trustworthy, and, most importantly, loves you.
A will is a legal document containing instructions as to what should be done with your money and property after you have passed. If you die without a will, your wishes may not be carried out, and your loved ones may be faced with spending additional money, time, and emotional energy settling your affairs.
In conclusion, resolve to improve family relations, your health, and personal financial matters throughout 2023 and beyond. I have found that it is valuable to write down your goals and aspirations; there is something about written words that motivate the soul and increases your drive. PVS has several Life journals as well as a financial game plan workbook to choose from, please visit https://prospectivevs.com/shop/. PVS also offers services that aid in executing your financial goals, please visit https://prospectivevs.com/services-2/. Take the time necessary to plan for your life, your fulfillment, and your happiness.