There’s something about the new year that just gets people moving. It’s the ultimate “fresh start” and it’s when people love to set new goals. Now that we’re more than a month into the new year, though, you may notice that the gyms are less crowded, and resolutions are yet again on the back burner for many people. Maybe you feel that way, too. It’s easy to lose sight of your goal, especially if you don’t turn it into a habit. But don’t worry, there is time for one more “reset” to get you back on track. Here are five financial goals you can still set for 2017!
1. Pay Down Your Debt
Paying off your debt is always a good idea. Decide that 2017 is going to be the year that you get rid of it all. If that is unrealistic, then pick a reasonable goal for how much you want your debt to decrease during the duration of the year. Commit every month to put aside some of your income to this cause. Remember, even small amounts will begin to add up. Just be sure that you are making this your priority over careless spending. You will never be financially free and stable until your debt is under control.
2. Save an Emergency Fund
I can’t stress this enough–setting aside savings for emergency situations is critical for your financial health! Budgets are nearly impossible to stick to without a little wiggle room in savings for those scenarios that you just don’t see coming. No one wants to be blindsided by even more debt just because the car needs a new engine or because your tooth needs a root canal. Emergency money will allow you to afford the necessities, stick to your monthly budget, and still work on paying off debt.
3. Understand the Difference Between a Roth and Traditional IRA
The main difference between the two is distinguished by when you pay income taxes. Income taxes in traditional IRAs are paid when you withdraw during retirement. It is the exact opposite with Roth IRAs; you pay the taxes upfront and none during retirement. If your tax bracket will likely go up by the time you retire, choosing a Roth IRA may be better. There are pros to both and other distinguishing factors between the two types as well. Do your research on the two, and retirement savings in general, during 2017 and figure out what the best fit is for you.
4. Save to Pay for a Trip in All Cash
The best time of the year is the week you travel with family and friends to vacation on the beach or ski in the mountains. Everyone loves an adventure and trips can be so much fun. However, don’t let the weeks and months after the vacation be filled with stress because money is so tight. Don’t let your dream vacation turn to painful debt. Make it your goal this year to save up for your annual trip a little at a time, so that when the time comes you can pay for it in cash.
5. Start Saving for Retirement
I already mentioned learning more about retirement plans, but you’ll need to put some money behind those plans, too. It’s never too early to start saving for this. The sooner you begin, the more savings you will accumulate. Your future self will be very grateful, trust me. If you find it difficult to plan for retirement, check out Betterment. Betterment has a “RetireGuide” that calculates your retirement gap. This tells you how much money you’ll have and how much you’ll need. Their RetireGuide considers where you live, your income and tax rates, your savings and more. It refreshes daily to give you current advice.
If you found yourself excited to tackle your new year’s resolutions, but then lost track of them, take a deep breath. Now is the time to reset. I hope these goals will point you in the right direction. Remember that high interest debt is one of the biggest obstacles to healthy finances, so tackle that immediately. You’ll also want some funds for emergencies on hand. And then, start thinking long-term so that your finances become easier to manage and you will have more stability moving forward.