With the holiday season in full swing, your financial focus is probably still on spending – buying that perfect present or a plane ticket for a quick trip to spend holidays with relatives and family. But what does the New Year hold in store for you financially? Whether you want 2018 to be the year you become debt free, financially stable, or the year you become a homeowner, these money resolutions will help you reach that goal.
Calculate Your Net Worth
Before you begin looking at your 2018 goals and resolutions, get a good grasp on where you stand financially. A simple way to begin this process is looking at your net worth. Here is a simple calculation to use:
Assets – liabilities = net worth.
You can calculate this by simply adding all of your assets together— begin by looking at the amounts in your checking and savings accounts, then move on to the amounts in any other accounts you have (like, for example, brokerage and retirement accounts). Add in the market value of your home, the estimated value of your vehicle(s), and the cash value of your life insurance and health savings account (HAS) if applicable.
Next, you will want to calculate your liabilities. Gather all the information you can on what you owe— – your mortgage, any balances left on your lease agreement, auto loans, etc. Of course, make sure you also include the amount you still need to repay on credit cards, store credits, student loans, and any other lines of credit you may have open.
Subtracting your liabilities from your assets will give you an accurate look at your net worth. Calculating this number as you head into 2018 can give you a good base for your goals and what you may want to achieve. Make a resolution to do this yearly or even twice a year, biannually, giving yourself a regular financial wakeup call of sorts.
Begin Managing Your Debt
Like many Americans, you may have debt going into 2018. Pulling from the list you just created, take a look at what you owe. Detail your debts – include your creditors, the total amount due, and make sure to take into account the interest, and due dates. Then categorize this list by the debts you want to begin paying off first.
The next, and most important, step to managing debt is paying it off. Start making payments as soon as possible. In addition to making payments with your primary source of income, begin looking for other pools of savings or additional earnings. The more you are able to put towards your debt while you’re earning steadily, the more dramatic an impact you’ll have on your bottom line. Remember, the quicker you pay off your debt, the less you’ll pay in interest.
Build Your Savings
It is reported that 61% of “older millennials” – those between 25 and 34 – have less than $1,000 in their savings accounts. While the amount you have in savings is personal and can be based on a variety of situations, you should consider some of the following items:
- Job security – look at your career path and the projection of your income.
- Access to standard benefits – take into account healthcare, and life insurance at a minimum.
- Projected or large purchases in the future – consider whether you’ll need a substantial down payment for a car or a home.
- Number of dependents – think about your children and spouse when projecting the amount you want to have saved in the short- and long-term. .
- Rainy-day fund – think about having money set aside for unforeseeable changes in your life. These could include the loss of a job, the need/want to move, or other unexpected expenses in the future.
- Your standard of living – consider how much you would like to have saved by certain milestones in your life, perhaps a significant birthday or life event, like the birth of a child or retirement.
These, among others, are things to weigh when deciding how much you want to save in 2018. But don’t get overwhelmed. If anything, simply putting a steady amount of money into savings is always a good New Year’s resolution.
Make 2018 the year you invest. While savings are a critical part of being financially secure, investing can drastically change your financial future for the better. Once you have set aside money in savings and for emergencies, you can begin investing with as little as $500.
The decision of how and what to invest in can be daunting. Luckily, today’s technology allows you to access tools and apps like Robinhood, Acorns, SigFig, and others. These apps allow you to make investments without losing time and money on the front-end – by paying for services or spending too much time researching. Some things to consider investing in can fall under the following categories:
- Bank products
- Investment funds
- Commodity futures
- Security futures
Each of these options has a broad set of pros and cons. In 2018, diversification is still the rule of thumb for investing. A combination or variety of investments will be best for risk management.
Take the investment plunge in 2018.
The Bottom Line
Before you watch the ball drop in Times Square and 2018 begin, take time to evaluate the current state of your finances. These recommended resolutions for 2018 will help you feel comfortable with your financial future; and, remember – your local credit union is always there with advice and guidance when you’re ready.