By: Charlestien Harris
It is quite rare that a financial counselor would advise you to develop spending habits! Usually, we tend to just give our advice on how to save, invest, or manage your money more efficiently to enjoy a healthy financial lifestyle. But this week, I’m going to break that “rule,” so to speak.
It is often said that it takes at least 21 days for a person to develop a habit. The secret to money health is to take care in planning your daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly financial expenditures and stick to those plans. We make New Year’s resolutions to help lift our vision and to aim for bigger and better things. Resolutions often lift our countenance because thinking about them and how we will accomplish them is an act of self-accomplishment. When we follow through, the results are often transformative. The more realistic they are, the less stress and anxiety we experience, which can be a priceless personal reward. So this year, I am asking that you take a look at the suggestions I mention below and put them into practice.
- Spend time working your financial plan for the New Year. Happy New Year! Well, now it is time to take a good, hard look at the plan you developed during the final weeks of 2022. The more you familiarize yourself with the plan and the goals you set, the more apt you are to stick to them. Write the plan down and position it in places you frequent to have a constant reminder of the goals you set for your financial future in 2023. It will be time well spent!
- Spend time gathering your tax documents for your tax preparer. Now is the time to get those important tax documents organized for either yourself or your tax preparer. In 2015, a federal law required employers to provide your tax documents by January 31. Make sure you keep all of your tax information in one folder so the documents can be easily accessible. Nothing can be more frustrating to a tax preparer than not having all the documents necessary to complete a client’s tax return in a timely manner.
- Spend time reviewing your current W-4 for adequate tax withholdings for 2023. Every year, you can make adjustments to your tax withholdings to make sure you are withholding enough from your earnings. Tax laws can change from year to year, so the deduction amount allotted last year may not be enough to satisfy the tax burden for the following tax year. Performing this task can keep you from paying a hefty bill at the end of tax season. If you are not sure how to complete the W-4 form, you can go to the IRS website at www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/fw4.pdf. A copy of the actual form along with the instructions can be found.
- Spend time reviewing your 401(k) or retirement account contributions. I often hear my clients say they want to be able to retire with enough money to live comfortably. That kind of statement requires you to plan how and when you make contributions to your retirement account. Once you review your contributions, you might be able to increase the amount you can contribute to that account. Check to see if your employer has a matched contribution option. This will help increase the monetary amount available to you when you decide to retire. And check the new tax laws, the amount you can contribute to those type of accounts has increased!
- Spend time reviewing your current insurance policies. Now is the time to review your insurance policies such as your car, life, house, and health. Some of your policies might need to be updated, such as if you’ve had a major life change that may affect the terms and conditions of that particular policy. But other conditions can affect how a policy is enacted as well. Throughout the year, try to regularly review and keep those policies current and updated.
Developing “spending time” habits can be very beneficial to the health of your finances in the coming year. Spending time reviewing your financial moves for the coming year is a necessary step to gaining control of your finances.
Try setting the ritual of checking your online banking daily to see how it looks. Are your accounts in good standing? Get in the habit of reviewing your finances on a regular basis. Facing your finances daily isn’t about becoming obsessed with your progress; it’s just healthy to know what’s going on, and maintain an awareness of areas within your finances that could be improved.
A good start at the beginning of the year will determine how you will wind up financially by the end of the year.
Until next week – stay financially fit!