As a new year begins, it’s only natural to think about resolutions and ways to change your habits for the better. It’s a fresh start, a time to re-evaluate and set new goals. My hope is that I can give you a little motivation and encouragement to make 2024 even better than last year. I always say, minor adjustments can make MAJOR improvements. Can this be your year of minor adjustments? I think it can be! I hope you enjoy this blog about steps you can take to make 2024 great.
Your Money Date
Your first step is to commit time to yourself to plan for the next year. I like to call this “My Money Date.” I Personally, I’ve had an annual money date with myself for as long as I can remember. Now, my husband and I do a Money Date together every January. I recommend you make it something you actually look forward to—something fun. My husband and I get a babysitter, go play tennis or golf together, and then sit down at a local coffee shop and order fancy lattes to enjoy over our Money Date. Think to yourself: when and where can you have your Money Date? Set time aside to prioritize your future.
Now on your Money Date, you have 3 tasks to accomplish.
1. Write out your net worth:
You can do this on a spreadsheet or a piece of paper. Whatever works best for you. List out ALL of your assets: savings accounts, retirement accounts, HSAs, properties, brokerage accounts, CDs, etc. Then list out all your liabilities (loans or debt): mortgage, credit cards, student loans, car loans, etc. Subtract your liabilities from your assets and then circle that number with a big red marker! Or highlight it in your spreadsheet. That, my friend, is your overall net worth. And this is a figure you should be aware of and motivated to watch grow. Keep this somewhere safe. Because, you guessed it, next year I’m going to challenge you to do this same exercise. And my guess is, it’s going to be higher next year based on all the positive changes you will have made, all the extra savings you will have set aside and invested from your newfound motivation!
Net Worth = Assets – Liabilities
2. List out all your BIG expenses for 2024:
Next step is to write a list of all of your big expenses for 2024. First, figure out what a big expense is to you. Assign a dollar threshold. Maybe it’s $1,000. Write out all of your big expenses over the next 12 months. Some examples: new water heater, weddings, summer camp, sinus surgery, snow tires, etc.
Now that you have your list, look at it. Analyze it. Think about all the things on there. Then, look at your cash and your cash flow. Can you realistically afford all the things on there? Is there something that you can push off to next year? Do you have a plan in place to pay for all these big expenses? Planning for big expenses can help avoid impulse buys and protect you from sacrificing other goals.
3. Goal plan for your future:
Step 3 is my favorite step of my Money Date. This is the time to really plan for your year. Envision where you want the year to go. Ask yourself: what do I want to accomplish this year? What will make this year a good year for me financially? I challenge you to write down 3-5 goals for the year. When you are writing goals, there are 3 requirements in my book. Goals need to be 1) Measurable 2) Definable and 3) Achievable.
Here are some ideas of goals:
- Build up my emergency fund to $50,000
- Max out my 401(k) with $23,000
- Save $10,000 in my son’s 529 plan
Once you’ve completed the 3 steps of your Money Date, make sure they are all captured somewhere you can look at them throughout the year. Save a spreadsheet to your desktop or send yourself an email. Now, make calendar reminders every quarter to revisit these. Next year, you should do the same thing and I wouldn’t be surprised if you’ve made some BIG progress over these 12 months.
I hope 2024 is a good year for all of us! I’m here to be a resource and a cheerleader for you. Reach out to me if there is an area where you’d like more guidance.
Alana Macy, Wealth Advisor
P.S. some important changes to be aware of for 2024:
- Traditional IRA and Roth IRA contribution limits have increased to $7,000 ($8,000 if you’re over 50) for the year
- 401(k) contributions limits have increased to $23,000 ($30,500 if you’re over 50)
- HSA contribution limits have increased to $4,150 for self-only and $8,300 for family coverage
- Starting in 2024, up to $35,000 in unused 529 plan assets can now be rolled over into a Roth IRA for a beneficiary. There are some restrictions, so if you have questions about this please reach out to me!