By Matthew Gaude & Shawn McGuire
If you’re like me, New Year’s Day already feels like ancient history. And if you made a New Year’s resolution, you may be part of the 80% of Americans who discarded their resolutions by February1. Thankfully, there’s nothing magical about January 1st. No matter where we are in the year, you can set new intentions and make the small steps necessary to make your goals a reality. If you have dreams of turning your finances around, take the time this spring to dust the cobwebs off of your financial plan and start fresh. Here are some actionable steps to jumpstart your financial plan in 2018!
1. Don’t Look Back
Don’t let your past mistakes keep you from moving forward. Did you make some bad investments or neglect to save? Start fresh from today and leave the past in the past. Take a look at your current financial situation, including income, savings, debt, and expenses, then come up with practical goals to make your dreams a reality.
2. Pursue Your Goals
Don’t be afraid to dream big financially. What if you could save $100,000 in the next five years? Having a big goal in mind can inspire you to stay on track. To avoid getting frustrated along the way, celebrate small milestones, such as reaching $5,000, $10,000, $25,000, and so on. Reevaluate your goals frequently to ensure you’re on track and make adjustments as needed. Having a goal in front of you will give you perspective in your day-to-day decisions and help you prioritize your saving and spending.
3. Review Your Insurance Coverage
Securing your financial future isn’t just about saving and investing, but also about managing your risks. Insurance helps you protect against risks that could ruin you financially. Your insurance needs will change based on your age, employment status, marital status, number of dependent children, etc. It is important to review your coverage each year to make sure you are fully covered and also to ensure you are not spending money on insurance that you don’t need. Double check your named beneficiaries as well to make sure they still reflect your preferences.
4. Get Your House In Order
If you are excited about conquering your goals, one of the first steps you need to take is to eliminate debt. When you are paying 10-30% interest on any number of credit cards or loans, you are cutting down on the money you have available to put towards your goals. Become relentless about reducing your debt and interest costs and consolidate accounts where you can. If you have a loan with a significantly higher interest rate than the others, you may want to work on paying off that one first. Or, if you're feeling overwhelmed by debt, try paying off the loan with the smallest balance first, no matter the interest rate, in order to gain some momentum.
An emergency fund can help you avoid accumulating more debt. By creating a liquid, easily accessible savings account, you won’t have to rely on debt to cover those inevitable life expenses, such as home repairs or medical bills. Create this cash cushion by putting aside money from each paycheck until you have enough to cover approximately three to six months worth of living expenses. You will never regret having an emergency fund at the ready.
5. Make Purposeful Investments
Anyone can close their eyes and pick a random mix of mutual funds to invest in, but having a customized retirement plan based on your circumstances, goals, and risk level is what will get you from point A to point B. Asset allocation is the most critical investment decision you can make. Sit down with a financial professional and create an investment philosophy that will give your portfolio a clear sense of purpose.
6. Consider Unexpected Risks To Your Financial Plan
No matter how hard you work to create a foolproof financial plan, there will always be risks and roadblocks that have the potential to get you off course. Inflation will decrease your purchasing power and rising healthcare costs can eat away at your nest egg. Unexpected early retirement could change the timeframe of your goals, tax changes could throw a wrench into your planning, and the loss of a spouse could impact your standard of living. Speak with your advisor to find ways to protect yourself against these risks.
7. Partner With A Financial Professional
Whatever your situation, whatever your goals, a financial professional can walk you through each of these steps to get your financial plan in shape. At Live Oak Wealth Management, our goal is to provide guidance through goals-based planning to help you take the steps necessary to achieve your financial dreams. Have you created a financial plan? If not, what has stopped you from creating one? Let us help you jumpstart your financial plan in 2018 by booking a meeting with us today!
Matthew Gaude is an *investment advisor representative and the co-founder of Live Oak Wealth Management, a financial services firm in Roswell, Georgia. He serves the planning and investment needs of corporate employees, those approaching or in retirement, and 401(k) plan sponsors. Working first as a commodity broker and then as a Business Development Manager for a national broker-dealer in previous jobs, he has the insights and experience to help clients understand the complexities of the market and implement strategies to minimize risk. To learn more about Matthew, connect with him on LinkedIn or visit www.liveoakwm.com.
Shawn McGuire is a financial advisor and the co-founder of Live Oak Wealth Management, a financial services firm in Roswell, Georgia. He serves the planning and investment needs of corporate employees, those approaching or in retirement, and 401(k) plan sponsors. He has worked in financial services since 2002 in positions ranging from financial advisor to stock broker and portfolio manager. As a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional, he is trained to help clients with virtually all their financial needs. To learn more about Shawn, connect with him on LinkedIn or visit www.liveoakwm.com.
Securities offered through American Portfolios Financial Services, Inc., member FINRA/SIPC. Investment advisory services offered through *American Portfolio Advisors, Inc., a SEC Registered Investment Advisor. Live Oak Wealth Management, LLC is independently owned and not affiliated with APFS or APA.
Any opinions expressed in this forum are not the opinion or view of American Portfolios Financial Services, Inc. (APFS) or American Portfolios Advisors, Inc.(APA) and have not been reviewed by the firm for completeness or accuracy. These opinions are subject to change at any time without notice. Any comments or postings are provided for informational purposes only and do not constitute an offer or a recommendation to buy or sell securities or other financial instruments. Readers should conduct their own review and exercise judgment prior to investing. Investments are not guaranteed, involve risk and may result in a loss of principal. Past performance does not guarantee future results. Investments are not suitable for all types of investors.