A toast to you, my friends!
Here's to out with the old (careless spending) and in with the new (being fiscally fabulous).
By David Rae Certified Financial Planner™
OK, I'm not going to call the following your Financial New Year's Resolutions because too many resolutions get broken all too easily (yes I'm talking to you, cheesecake!) But these 5 steps really do have the power to transform your money picture from meh to mega. Work them in order so once you've got one down, move onto the next. If you can only manage to take care of the first one or two, that's fine as long as you don't give up because even slow progress is progress.
1) Take control of your consumer debt - Credit card debt is the silent killer of financial security. You will never get ahead when you are paying 20 to 30% interest on crap you bought years ago, and probably don't even use anymore. Don't put stuff on your credit cards unless you can pay it off every month. No if ands or buts. And if you feel like an impulse buy, try instead to put the money into paying down your debt instead or (gasp!) tossing some into savings.
2) Get all the free money you can - If someone offered you an easy way to get a raise at work would you turn it down? I'm going to assume you gave a big "HECK NO." If you are ignoring your company's 401(K) match, you are leaving free money on the table.
3) Set up an automatic savings plan (or increase your old one) - Make life easy on yourself by putting money away monthly and automatically. Whether to a savings account or in investments, the point is to get it saved. If you don't see all that moolah burning a hole in your checking account, you're less likely to spend it. Out of sight out of mind is much more likely to stay saved and grow for your future.
4) Get the right amount of insurance - How much insurance you and your family need will be different than what your friends need or what the random Joes down the block require. All those fun insurance policies - auto, home, life, health, long-term care - have many variables and costs. Work with your financial planner to get the right amount of insurance so you're not overspending where you don't need to.
5) Put a plan in place - getting your assets in gear and putting yourself on the road to financial independence takes planning. If you don't know where you're going, how will you know if you're headed in the right direction? There is no one-size-fits-all perfect investment strategy or single ideal financial plan (or fabulous financial planner for that matter.) The important thing is that you have a plan that suits your individual circumstances so that you are constantly moving closer to your various financial goals. You can always make changes to your plan, and indeed this is to be expected, but you have to start with a plan in the first place.
I've been told that for many people sitting down with a financial planner is right up there with going in for a colonoscopy on the fun scale. And though I love what I do, I recognize that it can at times be a tad uncomfortable. But I'm with the gastroenterologist when I say that a little proactive push in the tush now is a lot better than a catastrophic pain in the butt later.
DAVID RAE, CFP®, AIF® is a Los Angeles-based Certified Financial Planner with Trilogy Financial Services. He is a leading voice of financial planning for the LGBTQI community, and has been helping people reach their financial goals for over a decade. Follow him on Facebook at www.facebook.com/davidraecfp or via his website, www.DavidRaeFP.com.
Securities and advisory services offered through National Planning Corporation (NPC), Member FINRA,SIPC, a Registered Investment Advisor. Trilogy and NPC are separate and unrelated entities.