A new year is an opportunity to refocus on your financial goals. Consider prioritizing your financial goals and then breaking the steps you will take to get there by month. Having a plan broken out, step by step, will make it simple for you to track your progress and allow you to have small wins along the way to your big goals.
Here are some examples of monthly goals you could set throughout 2024 to keep you on track throughout the year.
January – Set intentions
- Draft a budget based on your goals. Start by think through your wants, needs, and wishes, then, draft a budget for the year. We tend to underestimate how much we spend, so it may be helpful to look through spending in the previous year to determine if your figures are realistic. There are many budget management apps and other online tools that can help you stay organized.
- Think about ways to reduce your expenses. A new year is a great opportunity to reassess spending and consider adjustments. Review your outflows and consider making adjustment, such as dining out less or cancelling subscriptions you may have forgotten about.
- Make your 2024 IRA contribution. Making your contributions earlier in the year gives the investment more time to grow over the long-term.
February – Simplify your investments
- Simplify your investments. If consider transferring or rolling over old company retirement accounts, you may have forgotten about.
- Streamline your holdings. Review your asset allocation to ensure you are well diversified and your portfolio is aligned with your investment objectives, risk tolerance, and time horizon.
- Automate your investing by setting up recurring contributions to your investment accounts. This can simplify your life, removing the added step of reminding yourself to transfer money to various investment accounts.
March – Prepare for tax time
- Get organized. Gather last year’s forms, records, and tax documents. Make sure that you aren’t missing anything to streamline tax filing.
- File your taxes. Submit your return no later than April 15, 2024.
- Put your tax refund to good use. Consider using the cash from your refund to replenish your emergency fund, make your retirement account contributions, pay off high-interest debt, or invest in a taxable account.
April – Improve your financial standing
- Check your credit report by requesting a report from one of the major credit bureaus. You can access on free report from each major credit bureau per year. Review the report and resolve any issues that you may find.
- Review your outstanding debt and evaluate strategies for managing your debt. Consider targeting debt repayments toward high-interest debt first.
- If you haven’t yet - make your 2023 IRA contribution. You have until April 15, 2024 to make your 2023 IRA contribution.
May – Focus on education
- Open a 529 account for your child or grandchild. Saving for college, graduate school, or vocation training can be more attainable with a 529 plan.
- Help children succeed financially. Engage the children in your life in activities to help them become good savers and conscientious spenders so they are building good habits early in life.
- Find a book, podcast, or blog to learn more about financial topics that interest you. There are so many incredible resources available to expand your financial literacy.
June – Complete a mid-year check-up
- Do a mid-year check in. Are you sticking to the targets in your budget? If priorities have shifted, adjust accordingly.
- Review your asset allocation again. Ensure that as goals shift, your portfolio is still aligned.
July – Invest in yourself
- Secure your financial outlook. You may be thinking about career prospects and ways to increase your income. Consider opportunities for career development and networking.
- Practice mindful spending. Before purchasing a “want”, take some time to really consider it and make sure it is worth the cost.
August – Reassess your choices
- Evaluate your insurance coverage. Review your coverage levels on insurance policies such as life, health, disability, liability, auto, and property. Research and pursue and discounts you may qualify for.
- Review your subscriptions. In today’s day and age, everything comes with a free-trial, you’re bound to forget about one here and there. Take an inventory of your subscriptions and evaluate if you need or use them.
September – Give back
- Make charitable contributions and donations. Consider different way to make charitable contributions, such as a donor advised fund.
- Be strategic with your giving. There are many potential tax benefits to gifting. Research and evaluate different strategies to help save you some money.
October – Be vigilant with cybersecurity
- Protect your passwords by creating effective passwords. A strong password should contain uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols and do not contain words found in a dictionary.
- Protect yourself from fraudsters. Do not reply to unsolicited emails and messages about financial matters. Be sure to look at the URL of an email that seems suspicious. Never provide personal or account information if you receive an unexpected call from someone claiming to be from a financial institution.
November – Focus on family
- As you prepare for the later years of your life, it may be wise to involve your grown children in the conversation. Your plans can impact their futures too.
- Update your estate plan. Consider tax consequences and the income needs of your heirs. Review and update beneficiary designations on accounts, annuities, and insurance policies.
- Gather important documents in on place, including tax returns, legal and estate planning documents, statements, and bills of sale. Be sure to store them securely and tell your heirs where they can access the information.
December – Prioritize your retirement
- Aim to save at least 15% of your salary, including any employer plan contributions, across your retirement accounts.
- Take your required minimum distributions (RMDs). If you are 73 or older, you must take withdrawals from your qualified retirement accounts by the end of the year. There are penalties if you fail to do so.
Every person is going to have different goals for the year but, getting your finances in order should be a goal for everyone. Having just a couple goals each month to achieve can make getting everything done much more digestible. Also, don’t forget to use your advisor to help guide you in getting some of these goals accomplished, that is what they’re there for.