“If we don’t make our own future, it will be made for us.”
― Mike Klepper
January is typically the time of year that people make resolutions and attempt to change their lives. And why not? A new year is a great time for a new outlook. It is a great time to review and see where you are and what you accomplished last year. One aspect that should be reviewed is your finances. It can give you a great perspective on where you are financially and helps you think about where you want to go this year. Once you understand your current situation and created some goals for the year, it is much easier to put together a financial roadmap. Having and working toward specific goals can also make the unexpected events of the upcoming year less stressful (from a financial point anyway). Your review doesn’t have to large or complicated either. Focus on a couple of key areas and small, simple steps can make big improvements down the road.
There are four key areas that I like to review every January and I usually find that large changes are not needed – just small course adjustments.
- Are you worth more or are you worth less than last year?
- Do you know why?
- Do you track your spending?
- Do you know where your money goes?
- Are you spending more than you are earning?
- How much are you spending on debt?
- What happens to your family if you get sick – or worse?
- If you have insurance, do you have enough? Do you have too much?
- Do you have the right kind?
- Did you experience a major life event last year like a marriage or new job? Will there be another one this year?
- Have you thought about when you want to retire?
- Have you thought about your income when you retire?
- If you have, are they the same now as when you first thought about them?
- Are you taking advantage of your group benefits at work?
Of course, there are many other areas that can be reviewed and many other questions to ask, but these four questions can give you a big picture view of your financial situation in a short amount of time, and they often lead to other questions.
If you are not sure how to go about reviewing these topics, don’t worry as we have many resources that make this task simple and painless, including suggestions for free software and spreadsheets to track you cash flow and calculate your net worth. We can also help you determine if you and your family are properly protected and help clarify your retirement, whether you have 30 years of work ahead of you or you are already retired.
Here’s to a great 2017!