New Year:
Fresh Financial Start!

As we enter the new year, many of us make resolutions, looking at the new year as a clean slate and a wonderful time to set some goals for the year ahead. However, often we make too many resolutions that we are unlikely to keep because it’s just too much change at once. We give up quickly because we are unable to implement everything right away. Your first resolution is to just focus on one or two items at the beginning of the year, and then as those resolutions are achieved or become a habit, add a new one each month.

It’s not surprising that the most common resolutions focus on health and finances. A Forbes Health/OnePoll survey found the post popular goals for 2024 include improved fitness (48%), improved finances (38%) and improved mental health (36%). Various other surveys show comparable results focused on finances and health.

Here are some financial tips that you may want to consider as part of your New Year resolutions, with links to articles for more in-depth explanation.

Emergency Fund

Everyone should have an emergency fund to cover unplanned expenses. Below are links to an article from the CFP-Let’s Make a Plan website, as well as my previous article in The Lancaster Herald about where to put that emergency fund so that it is liquid but earning some interest.
How to Start an Emergency Savings Fund
CFP – Let’s Make a Plan

Where should I park some short-term cash?
The Lancaster Herald

Reducing Credit Card Debt

With today’s high interest rates, you may be spending a lot of money just paying interest on your credit cards and not reducing the actual debt by much. See the article below on how to best manage your credit card debt.
Managing Credit Card Debt as Interest Rates Rise
The Lancaster Herald

Retirement Savings

Only half of Americans have calculated how much they need to save for retirement. The average American spends about 20 years in retirement. Fewer private employers offer defined benefit plans, and you shouldn’t rely on just social security benefits during your retirement years. See the article below on how to start saving for retirement.
Saving for Retirement? Try The Picnic Basket Approach
The Lancaster Herald

Check Your Credit Report

Checking your credit report will show you your credit history and credit score, help you be more aware of what lenders may see, and help you detect any inaccurate or incomplete information. You can check your credit report with each of the three major credit bureaus for free once per year: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. You can check all three at AnnualCreditReport.com.

Use Your Employee Benefits

Many employee benefits go unused, leaving money on the table. See the article below to check if you are using all your benefits.
Are You Getting All Your Employee Benefits?
The Lancaster Herald

Review Your Subscription Fees

While cord cutting has been a way to reduce expensive monthly cable bills, now there are numerous subscription fees to various streaming and music services that may add up to more than you were paying before with cable. In addition, the fees for these services have risen incrementally, with you not even being aware. Now is a great time to review your various subscriptions and the monthly fees to determine what are you really using, how much is it costing, and is it worth it?

Cleaning Out Old Financial Records

Why wait for spring cleaning? A good New Year resolution may be to clean out and shred those old records. Looking for guidance on how long you need to keep those records? See the article below.
How Long Do I Need to Keep Records?
The Lancaster Herald

Update Your Will and Estate Plan

Everyone age 18 or older should have a basic will. If you have life insurance, or retirement plans, you need to make sure you have beneficiaries designated. A future article will discuss wills, titling of assets, beneficiaries and other estate planning tips in depth.

Create a Financial Plan

A financial plan can help you incorporate many of the ideas above into a plan that is customized to your current financial situation and financial goals. It will help you to prioritize steps to achieve these goals. Do you need a financial plan? See the article below for guidance.
Financial Planning 101: Do I Need a Financial Plan?
The Lancaster Herald

Remember, don’t try to accomplish all these financial resolutions at once. Pick the one that is most pressing for you right now, an area that may be causing you stress or anxiety, and focus on that goal first. If you get off track, review what caused that to happen and try again. Once you have achieved that financial goal, or are making progress, then you can add another. If it seems too overwhelming, maybe it is time to meet with a trusted financial professional to assist you.

The information contained in this article is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to substitute for obtaining accounting, tax, or financial advice from a professional for your specific situation.

Filed under: Dollars & Sense, Featured, Homepage Showcase, Life, News
Profile photo of Penny Wasem, CPA, CFP, PFS, owner of Lifetime Financial Planning Solutions in Lancaster, Ohio.

By Penny Wasem, CPA, CFP, PFS

Penny L. Wasem is the owner of Lifetime Financial Planning Solutions, LLC. A summa cum laude graduate of Ohio University, Penny earned a Bachelor of Business Administration with focus in accounting and mathematics. She serves on the board of The Fairfield Medical Center Foundation, is a member of the Investment Committee of The Fairfield County Foundation and has been active on many non-profit boards in the community. Penny lives in Lancaster with her husband Eric Hubbard and is parent to Clark and Olivia Hubbard.