“Next year” is always a good time to get your money together or after you get that promotion you always wanted. We keep planning of financial security but never manage to bring that planning into reality and one truth everyone knows about but no-one likes to talk about is that time doesn’t stop, it keeps ticking away.)
Now that we are at the dawn of the decade, it may be the perfect time to get a move on things and stop making excuses.
What moves you would want to make that could potentially have the most impact? Here are the answers we got from several financial advisors when we asked them what they think are the steps everyone could benefit from in 2020 and beyond:
1. Contribute more towards tax-advantaged retirement accounts.
According to the host of a retirement podcast, Retirement Starts Today and a financial advisor Benjamin Brandt, the start of the year is a perfect opportunity to rethink what portion of present income are you storing away for post-retirement. Luckily the maximum you can contribute has been increased by the Internal Revenue Services (IRS) to $401(k) account in 2020 which has brought your maximum contribution amount to $19,500.
“Could you save a little more for the future version of yourself?” he asks. “Calculate what a 1% increase in your savings rate might be, and commit to that increase.”
You don’t even notice it, when your savings increase in such small increments, that your money is missing from your budget, but how would you know about it if you don’t try it? (See also: 5 Money Moves to Make Before You Turn 40)
2. Note the big changes that have appeared in your life throughout the previous year.
Luis F. Rosa, a financial planner and host of the On My Way to Wealth podcast, advises that everyone should take a moment or two and analyze all the big changes they have gone through like marriage, or divorce or birth of a new child during the last two years.
Another thing you should analyze is your beneficiary designations on your life insurance, 401k, and other accounts so you have as clear a picture of your future as possible, he says. (See also: 5 Money Moves Every Single Parent Should Make)
3. Learn to live inside your limits
Most people buy what they need and save the rest, this is how most people administer their funds, the most backward way possible. What people need to do is “Reverse their thinking”, according to financial advisor Christopher Clepp of Strategic Financial Group If they wish to change this trend in their lives.
According to Clepp “Invest for the lifestyle you want and spend what is leftover” rather than purchasing whatever you wish for and worrying about savings as an afterthought.
If you are saving enough then keeping track of every single expenditure is not necessary says Clepp. “If you need to save 20% per month, then save that first and the other 80% spend as you see fit as long as you don’t exceed that number or run up credit card debt.”
4. Get rid of credit card debt
Having a credit card in your wallet is always very comforting until you start buying more than you can pay for or get adopted to a lifestyle you can’t afford. In the short run credit card may not be as problematic but having a debt of any kind is always a burden and these burdens can get quite heavy since credit cards averagely carry an APR of over 17% which doesn’t make the ideal option when it comes to borrowing money.
For example, if you have around $5,000 as credit card debt then with an average APR from ages 35 to 65 this debt will cost you around $20,000 in interest payments, which is an absurd amount of money which could be spent doing other, better activities. Clepp says 2020 should be the year everyone gets rid of their credit debt for good.
5. Evaluate your insurance requirements
According to Clepp everyone should give their insurance needs a look every year doesn’t matter if they are already up to date or not.
“All the careful future planning can be undone by an unexpected accident,” he says, so you should never forget to review the home insurance, auto insurance, and any umbrella insurance that you have every year.
Look for someone who can educate you on the policies. “Cheaper isn’t always better, but you may be able to find comparable coverage for a better price,” he says.