We have crossed the threshold into 2024, and I am sure you have made one or two new resolutions.
Instead of sticking to the traditional resolutions, why not venture into something sustainable and rewarding – like reevaluating your financial habits?
Below are 6 to-dos to set you on a path to 2024 being an abundant and prosperous year – and to support you in being more empowered and intentional about your money.
- Set a Realistic Budget
Budgeting is tough. But when developing a financial plan for our clients, we typically start with a client’s budget. Why? Because it’s the backbone of any financial plan and the foundation for building wealth.
Instead of vague ambitions, opt for a realistic budget. Include your income, set spending categories, and track your expenses as you navigate through the financial year.
- Increase Retirement Contributions
You might be thinking “I don’t have enough money to increase my contributions.” Even those clients with substantial household income find ways to spend up to their income level – and they too share the perspective that they don’t have enough to contribute more.
The trick is “trimming” not “cutting” things completely out of your budget to “find money.” “Cutting” feels punitive, right? But “trimming” – we can all do that!
- Manage Your Debt
Unless you have a 0% interest rate and are paying off more than the amount of interest owed, then debt is compounding backward. This makes it very tough to crawl out of the debt hole.
We recently met with a couple to develop their financial plan. They thought they were taking the best course of action, making minimum payments on their credit cards. But, because their minimum payments were not even covering the interest charges, the impact of the compound interest on their plan outcomes was staggering. We developed a debt paydown schedule for them, which included increased payments to cover principal and interest, resulting in drastically different plan outcomes.
Create a list of your debts and rank them by interest rate from highest to lowest. Create manageable repayment goals, paying more on the loans with the highest interest rate. Then strive to stick to the planned schedule. This should work wonders for your financial health and credit score.
- Hone Investment Strategy
Whether you felt the effects yourself or witnessed a family member suffering, many of us remember the pain caused by the 2008 Financial Crisis.
Between 10/1/07 – 3/9/08 the S&P 500 Index lost over -57% of its value (see chart below). Many savers didn’t have appropriate allocations to weather the storm – specifically, not enough risk management in their investment accounts. This left them unable to meet these goals. Many had to retire years later, waiting for their investment account balance to get back to prior levels.
I left finance in 1999 largely due to a significant values disconnect with the industry. The Financial Crisis was the reason I got back into the industry – with the goal of helping savers understand the importance of managing risk.
Giving your investments a little thought will likely benefit your financial plan and its outcomes. Review your allocations. Understand the risk-vs-reward trade-offs and assess whether your allocations will allow you to meet your goals.
- Expand Your Financial Knowledge
Make a resolution to learn more about personal finance. Read books, follow financial blogs, or take a course. The more you understand, the better decisions you’ll make.
Join us to support you in this effort! Throughout the year we host many events centered around our mission to help you become a more informed and intentional wealth builder. Check out some of these events below.
Stock Market Update (SMU) – Quarterly, we host engaging conversations where we share industry insights on current market events and discuss how these events shape our proprietary portfolios (Alexis Impact Portfolios). Come and ask questions, or just listen in on your commute. Join us for our first
Stock Market Update webinar of the year on January 11, 2024, which will be held at Noon and 4:30 pm EST. Register in advance using one of the links below.
12:00 Noon | Click here to register.
4:30 PM | Click here to register.
Women, Money & Mindfulness – If you are in the Richmond area, stay tuned for our upcoming program that will include topics such as: Organizing Your Financial Life and Navigating the Journey with Aging Parents
- Invest Intentionally
Sustainable Investing (also known as Environmental, Social, Governance [ESG] investing) has been in the spotlight for the last few years with opinions ranging widely. Some say that these investments underperform the standard benchmark. Others say, “It’s all greenwashing and just another way to sell investment products.”
We believe it’s more complex than that and are here to have the conversation and demonstrate our methodology. We believe that investing through this filter is directionally correct – and we have invested in many companies that are applying these principles with the goal of striving to do well and do good.
If treating the environment well (E), supporting fair labor practices (S), and applying balanced board structures and fair executive compensation (G) are important to you, speak to your advisor about how she is using your investments to try to tackle some of these challenges.
While this list might seem overwhelming at first, remember you don’t have to check every box immediately. You can take your time, prioritize, and work through this checklist throughout the year. With each step you take, you’re that much closer to financial stability and independence – and being intentional with your hard-earned money.
And you don’t have to tackle this alone. There is a galaxy of resources at your fingertips – from financial advisors to informative blogs and online communities.
And we are here to help too!