Out with the old, in with the new. Its a timeworn New Years tradition. But it should also apply to your personal finances. Make 2017 the year you make some major changes in order to protect your savings–and to save more.
Heres what a panel of experts had to offer:
Have a Plan and Get S.M.A.R.T.
Set Clear Financial Goals. If you dont know where you are going, then it is going to be very difficult to get there. 2017 has to be the year that you say enough is enough. No more just being satisfied with intentions, instead you have to create a plan that will help you execute on your goals, says Ash Exantus, Financial Empowerment Coach at BankMobile. In order to do so, our goals must be clear and concise. Its not enough to say, I want to manage my money better this year or I want to start saving more. Instead, your financial goals should be S.M.A.R.T. (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound). So instead of I will pay down debt, you will say I will pay down my debt of $15,000 in 2017 by paying off $625 every two weeks when I get my paycheck.
Get Financially Educated
This is extremely important because financial education is not taught in school, ever or anywhere! People are financially uneducated and this is the number one reason why there is surmounting fear around retirement funds, explains Michael Tamez, a lifestyle expert, wellness author and motivational speaker. You will have to take the power back into your hands and create your own investment opportunities. There are plenty of free videos, courses and articles you can find online to help you navigate the ever-evolving financial world. Its up to you to be aware of how to create financial freedom because our educational, banking and investment institutions dont want to share this information.
Get Your Financial Records in Order
Make an estate plan, advises financial professional Annalee Leonard, owner of Mainstay Financial. 55% of Americans die without a will or an estate plan. No one wants to sit around and think about what happens if they get sick, or worse yet, pass away unexpectedly. But that attitude is leaving you and your loved ones vulnerable. If you dont have a plan, the state will decide one for you. It will most likely not be the same plan you had in mind. Some small and relatively inexpensive steps will make sure you and your family are covered. In addition to a will, you will want to establish a financial power of attorney, healthcare power of attorney, a living will and establish a guardian if you have children.”
Tap into Technology to Better Manage Finances
Using technology to better manage your finances can tell you in a heartbeat whether you are spending too much money on Ubers or if you can afford to pay off more of your credit card bills. Technology can make it easier for you to invest and grow your money as well. Apps like Mint, Acorn, Digit, and Wealthfront are great places to start, Exantus points out.
Protect Your Assets
Instead of leaving your financial security to chance, you must make sure that you are properly protecting your finances. You do this by looking into the right insurance, based on your needs. Whether it is rental insurance, homeowners insurance, life insurance, short term/long term disability insurance or travel insurance, you need to make sure that your assets are protected in the event of an unforeseen emergency, notes Exantus.
Pay Your Blessings Forward
The late Muhammad Ali once said: The service you do for others is the rent you pay for your room here on Earth. A great way to show gratitude for your blessings is to be a blessing to others. This year, make a conscious effort to give back to those who are less fortunate. It can be by donating your time to feed the homeless or donating to a good cause. It can even be as simple as anonymously paying for a customer in line. There is magic in being of service and youll be surprised how much good will come back to you, offer Exantus.
Get a Side Hustle
Create your own products and services, advises Tamez. I encourage you to explore your creative talents and abilities more. What are you good at? How can you monetize that talent and perhaps even build a business out of it? Have you experienced something extraordinary in your life, and because of it, have tons of knowledge and wisdom to share? Perhaps you can write a book about your extraordinary experience. If you can play an instrument, why not form a band and record an album? Maybe you have an idea for the next Tesla invention? Creating your own products and services can create steady streams of residual income.