40 financial resolutions for 2023
Rochester area experts share money-saving (and money-making) tips.
From Colin Aldis, Financial Associate,
Emerald Financial Group, Thrivent Financial.
1. Track your spending. There are many software tools available today. Our parents may have gone through a check register, but you don’t have to do that today, Many banks and credits unions offer programs for cash management and provide data as to “where does your money go?” Mint.com is a company that our clients have used. There is no perfect system, but you should have knowledge as to where you spend money. Once you know that you can access if you should or need to make changes.
2. Increase your funding towards your retirement plan. My rule is the 1/1/1 Rule. On the first of the year and every year, increase your retirement contributions by at LEAST 1%. Set these up if possible to happen automatically and you will never notice the change, If you are under 40 you should really be increasing your contributions by 4%.
3. If you have over 10 years until retirement make your investments as AGGRESSIVE as you can. Choose a diversified portfolio which will contain over 90% stocks.
4. Meet with your trusted financial advisor. OR GET one if you don’t have one. Have a financial check done at least every five years. For those closer to retirement, meet annually when five years away from retirement.
5. Open a Fun savings account at a credit union or bank. Deposit $25 per paycheck. Call it the Trip to Florida Fund, or the Go to Hawaii Fund. Name it for something you want to do, and increase those contributions each and every year.
From Brad Becker. President/CEO of ONB Bank
1. Take full advantage of your employer’s 401K plan and full matching. Put in the amount you need to get that immediate 100% return on your dollars with your employer match. Then, with each pay raise, up your contributions a bit more ... start as soon as you get that first job, the earlier you start the more you will have when you retire.
2. Build an emergency fund/Prioritize saving. One suggestion to help you save: Open a separate account and have money automatically deposited into the account from each paycheck. Emergency funds can help you get through unexpected expenses. Strive to grow it to three months of your income.
3. Diversify your investments. Follow the old adage: Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Diversifying your investment holdings will increase your chances of success. Not sure where I first heard this, but along the same lines, find multiple streams of income. Many financially successful individuals have multiple streams of income. Some examples could be purchasing an investment (rental) property, purchasing high paying dividend stocks of solid companies, or perhaps a second job.
4. Improve your credit score. Higher credit scores typically help lower interest rates and give you more flexibility in loan terms. Review your credit report to be sure everything is accurate at Annualcreditreport.com. Make you monthly payments on time. Reduce balances on lines of credit and credit cards. Limit your credit card balance to 30-40% of the card limit. As you accumulate a higher balance, limiting what’s available, it can impact your credit score. Reaching your credit maximum is not a goal you want to achieve!
5. Try utilizing your debit card more often. This helps you visualize how fast purchases draw down the funds you have and prevents you from carrying a balance due to overspending. It also helps your local businesses by cutting down on the fees large credit card companies impose on them. Win, win!
From Randy Brock, Realtor, Broker, WightmanBrock Real Estate Advisors
1. For homeowners: Invest in your home. Even if you plan to be there for a long time, take the opportunity every year to plan on some projects, updates, or replacement of old appliances/mechanicals.
2. Save more. This is always on my list. Some years I do better than others, but I try to stay diligent.
3. Pay off debt. At least work on balances.
4. For renters: Save for that home. Saving more and paying off debt will only put you in a better spot to purchase.
5. Then look at buying a home. Even with interest rates being higher than last year, homeownership continues to build your equity more than renting and, more often than not, is better for your monthly bottom line.
From Nate Cote, AVP, Commercial/Ag Lender, Manufacturers Bank & Trust (MBT Bank)
1. Seek out a Financial Adviser. If you have additional income this year, I highly recommend seeking out a Financial Adviser. Financial Advisers can help you determine what investments/ interest earning accounts that best fit your based on your current financial situation. There are ample investment accounts, from CDs, stocks, bonds, mutual funds, etc. A Financial Adviser can help set your long term goals and advise on which accounts best fit your financial goals.
2. Make a long-term financial goal. Whenever people look for financial advice, they continue to hear the same thing year after year about paying down high interest debt. Not everyone has that capability. I recommend that you think about your long-term financial goal this year. Review your income and see how much money you want to have during your retirement years. A simple Google search, searching retirement calculator will help you determine what your financial goals will be in retirement. Your future goals will require you to review your current monthly spending habits.
3. Consider the interest. This year, some people will not have the option of borrowing money with our current economic state. When you are looking at borrowing money with a higher interest rate, consider how much you will pay in total interest over the life of the loan. That will determine how much you are actually paying for the item such as a vehicle, house, etc. This is highly important when it comes to depreciable assets such as vehicles.
4. Make your hobby profitable. If you’re finding yourself barely getting by each month and just keeping your head above water, think about a service or product you personally enjoy. For example, if you enjoy painting, think about listing one of your paintings online. Ecommerce can be free, and annual spending online continues to increase year after year. You are essentially starting a business without having to raise any capital. Worst situation is that it doesn’t sell and you’re not out anything because that’s what you currently do as a hobby.
5. Make that monthly statement. With inflation and the cost of monthly subscriptions continuing to rise, we typically hear the recommendation of creating a spreadsheet with all of your monthly expenses. There is a much easier way and it is all created for you to review. Today with online banking; it is easy to lose track of what your account’s credit and debits were for the month. You look at your balance and if you made a purchase the other day, you just check to see if the purchase went through and spend accordingly to what your available balance is. I recommend printing out your monthly statement and reviewing it each month.
From Nick Krakosky, CFP, Integrated Wealth Advisor, Carlson Capital Management
1. Get your estate plans in order. Estate planning is important for everyone. A well-designed estate plan should align with your wishes for how your assets will flow to your desired beneficiaries, clearly outline decision-makers in the event of your incapacitation or death, and minimize gift, estate, and income taxes. If you haven’t recently reviewed your estate plans, or don’t yet have any estate documents, we recommend making that a top financial resolution for 2023.
2. Analyze progress for retirement. Whether you are living in retirement or saving for retirement, it’s important to revisit your spending desires and needs, then run an analysis to see if you are on track to achieve your lifestyle goals. Check with your financial advisor or utilize a retirement calculator online to see if you need to make any key adjustments.
3. Review or create your emergency fund. Generally, individuals should have between 3-6 months of their living expenses set aside in cash in case of unplanned financial expenses. In 2023, review your living expenses and determine whether your emergency fund is adequate. If it isn’t, make it a goal to save a portion of your monthly income to fund your emergency savings.
4. Optimize charitable giving. Depending on your age and tax situation, consider that contributing cash to a charity may not be the most tax-efficient approach for you. For some people, gifting highly appreciated assets (such as stocks) directly to a charity, gifting multiple years of charitable intent to a donor advised fund (sometimes referred to as “stacking” or “bunching” donations), or giving directly from an IRA (if you are over 70-½ years old) allows for more optimal tax benefits for their gifts. Make it a goal to explore an ideal charitable giving strategy for your situation long before the close of 2023.
5. Control your emotions as an investor. As investors, throughout 2022 we all experienced stock market volatility paired with headlines about the possibility of a recession. In 2023, it’s likely we will experience and hear more of the same. Avoid the urge to let emotions and headlines control your investment decisions by trying to time the market. Instead, make a resolution to stick to a carefully crafted, long-range financial plan.
From Kari Douglas Ehleringer,
CFP, CPWA, CRPC, ChFC, APMA, BFA
Echelon Wealth Partners
1. Create a budget. By tracking expenses and following a plan, it makes it easier to pay bills on time, build a cash reserve (emergency fund) save for a specific goal and ensure you don’t overspend.
2. Set goals! Short-term, mid-term and long-term financial goals. This is an important step toward becoming financially secure, if you don’t have goals, you may be more likely to spend more than you should on frivolous items and not have your basic finances under control.
3. Break those goals down this way.
Short-term: Build a cash reserve or emergency fund
Mid-term: Saving for a large trip, expensive purchase, children’s education or a down payment for a new home.
Long-term: Saving for retirement or creating a financial legacy.
4. Ensure you pay off your credit card each month in FULL. Credit card interest can sneak up on you and cannibalize your financial future if you are only paying the minimum it may take years to pay it off.
5. Maximum fund your workplace retirement plan or at least to the amount of the employee match. 2023 contribution limits are increasing for salary deferral limit—$22,500 and catch-up for 401(k), 403(b) 457 (applies per calendar year) $7,500 additional.
Lori Horstman, VP, Member Experience & Advocacy,
Altra Federal Credit Union
1. Create a budget. An important thing to remember when dealing with finances is to go back to the basics and make sure you aren’t spending more than you make. One way to do this is to take time to track your income and expenses and then create a budget. Writing everything down helps you identify where your money is going, which is necessary before you can start making adjustments.
2. Create an emergency fund. Unexpected events in life can throw our financial goals off course. Most Americans do not have enough money saved in the event of a $400 emergency. That could be for a car repair, medical needs, etc. Starting an emergency fund is one way to prepare for those unexpected things. Start small by just taking $10 out of every paycheck and putting it into a separate savings account that you don’t touch. Raise that amount to $20 or $25 once you receive a salary increase and set up a scheduled transfer of a few dollars to your savings account every payday.
3. Check your credit. With all the online purchases people make throughout the year and especially during the holidays, it’s important to check your credit report once a year to make sure that there isn’t something on there that’s not yours. Fraud is occurring more each day and checking your credit regularly will allow you to make sure you have not been impacted.
4. Update beneficiary information. It’s important to make sure that all your financial information is current and up to date. Be sure to go through all your various statements for credit union accounts, retirement accounts, and insurance policies to make sure all your beneficiary data is up to date. Many times, the beneficiaries listed haven’t changed, but is the correct contact information for address, phone number, email and cell phone listed?
5. Tackle your debt. Making a plan to pay off debt you do have is extremely important. Try to utilize installment debt more often than credit card debt. If you do utilize credit card debt, make sure to pay it off each month so you don’t incur added interest. One way to start crossing off your debt is to look at it one of two ways. One school of thought is to pay off the highest interest rate credit first and pay more than the minimum payment. Doing this allows you to save money on interest paid. The other option is to pay off debts with lower balances so that you can see that debt get to zero more quickly. No matter which option you choose, take a consistent approach of trying to pay more than just the minimum payment and you’ll see those balances go away.