David Lerner Associates: Financial Goals for 2016
With 2015 coming to an end, many Americans are taking stock of their accomplishments of the past year and setting goals for the coming 12 months.
According to a study by Capital One, many Americans fell short of achieving their financial goals in 2015. Among the reasons given – not sticking to a monthly budget, lack of a spending plan, and not effectively paying down their debt.
So how can we do better in 2016?
Here are some ideas to help achieve your financial goals this year:
Identify your goals
Without a plan, without a goal, it’s highly unlikely that you will look back in a year’s time and feel that you’ve made any progress. Identifying your goals and setting time frames and deadlines in a specific way is key to knowing how to allocate your financial resources. Whether you’re saving for a house, or a car, or reducing debt, you’ll need a roadmap to make sure you meet your personal milestones.
This is one of the most essential ways to meet your financial expectations. And yet only about one third of Americans keep a budget, according to a 2013 Gallup poll. Developing a budget is a rather easy process. Start by jotting down all your monthly income, and then your known expenses, like rent, car insurance, and groceries, etc. and compare them. Knowing how much you're spending in each category will help you identify any trouble areas.
Stay on top of it
There are many resources out there to help track and plan your monthly expenses and pay down your debt. (www.nomoredebts.org is one such resource.) Using a tool to stay on top of your spending and give you a realistic picture of where your finances are at any given time will allow you the freedom to keep spending in check when needed and also allow you to indulge yourself when you have the resources available.
If you have multiple debts, start with the manageable ones. Let’s say you owe $25k on a credit card, and only $2k on a medical bill. Let’s start with allocating any above-minimum payments to the medical bill first until that’s totally paid off. Then tackle the next smallest, and so on. Before you know it, you will have taken care of some major debt in the course of a year.
By paying off low-balance debts, you free up money you can put toward an emergency fund or other debts. Just be wary that as you free up more money every month you don't increase spending.
34% of American adults have no emergency savings at all, according to a March 2015 survey by public advocacy organization NeighborWorks America. If it were easy, everyone would do it. Unfortunately, it’s not that easy, and yet it’s one of the most important elements in making a better money plan. Once you’ve reduced debt, you should focus on squirreling away enough to cover three to six-month’s expenses in a money market account.
Saving money now will help reduce your reliance on Social Security when you're older. Setting up a retirement investment will assure you have enough money when the time comes. One idea is to seek out additional income sources, and use the money earned to pay towards a retirement investment. Whether you take a part-time side gig, tutor on the weekends, or use a unique skill that you have to earn some extra cash, put that money straight into your retirement fund.
Material contained in this article is provided for information purposes only and is not intended to be used in connection with the evaluation of any investments offered by David Lerner Associates, Inc. This material does not constitute an offer or recommendation to buy or sell securities and should not be considered in connection with the purchase or sale of securities.
To the extent that this material concerns tax matters, it is not intended or written to be used, and cannot be used, by a taxpayer for the purpose of avoiding penalties that may be imposed by law. Each taxpayer should seek independent advice from a tax professional based on his or her individual circumstances.
These materials are provided for general information and educational purposes based upon publicly available information from sources believed to be reliable– we cannot assure the accuracy or completeness of these materials. The information in these materials may change at any time and without notice.
David Lerner Associates does not provide tax or legal advice. The information presented here is not specific to any individual's personal circumstances.
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