New Year, new financial goals for 2022

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Adam Birenbaum, SPECIAL FOR THE JEWISH LIGHT

It’s probably safe to assume that we’ve all committed to a resolution or two as we ring in the new year. Every January offers us a clean slate, the proverbial “reset button” and it’s fitting that we take some time to reflect and challenge ourselves to focus on both the large and small actions we can take to improve our lives moving forward… it’s time to set some goals.

There are many important areas of life we should take stock of during this reflective exercise: relationships, work, community involvement and personal wellness, to name a few. But today I recommend we start with our finances, as our financial health can have tremendous impact on every other facet of our lives. Let’s discuss five specific, measurable goals we might set to improve our finances in 2022.

Goal 1. Assess resources

While my crystal ball remains cloudy as it relates to the future of the stock market or world events that impact our economy, I’m confident we should choose to focus on what we know and have control over: our life-stage, ages of children, work status, sources of income, ongoing financial commitments – such as mortgage, consumer debts, and tuition payments – investments and savings.   We have to develop a true and complete picture of our finances to make a smart plan moving forward. And this means understanding your net worth, both what you own and what you owe.

Goal 2. Identify priorities

Is this the year to catch up?  Pay off old consumer debts or an existing loan? Perhaps, it is the time to open a savings account or begin planning for a child’s college education? Rather than living a month-to-month life filled with anxiety, we can start to take the long-term view and map out our priorities. Naturally, deviation from the original plan is to be expected, but we can take comfort in knowing that we have intentionally developed a strategic approach to financial decision making – one that will prove beneficial to us and our families.

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Goal 3. Work your wish list

It’s so important to prioritize joy – the things that make lasting memories and add to our quality of life.  Do you want to travel, look for a new home or car, renovate your kitchen, put in a pool, or send a child to sleep away camp? These are aspirations matter and they should be planned.  The key here is to plan in a realistic way; that is, know the amount of money you will need to put into a savings account each month to work toward your goal. Consider all sources of income. Perhaps, you could earn money with a side gig. Or maybe you have a bond expiring, and rather than reinvest, you can move that money into your cash savings. Be strategic and steadfast.

Goal 4: Educate yourself about the nuts and bolts

Take some time to learn about your assets: the value of your home, stability of your stocks and bonds, the end-of-year balances in checking and savings accounts and contributions to a 401K, Roth IRA or inherited IRA. Learn about and take advantage of your employer’s full company match.  If you are not comfortable with your knowledge level or have questions, I encourage you to reach out to a financial advisor that takes a fiduciary, evidence-based approach to financial planning. Find a professional that will help you design, build, and protect your financial life. There is a lot of information to digest, so know that no question is too small or silly to ask.

Goal 5.  Read

There are a plethora of journals, magazines and even social media accounts you can follow to learn about making wise financial decisions. Barron’s, the Wall Street Journal, and Investopedia are just a handful of the sites and publications that can help you gain broader perspective.

And if you’re interested in diving a little deeper, there’s no shortage of books to help you improve your financial decision-making. While I could make many recommendations, I will instead share one that quite honestly changed my life. Larry Swedroe’s “The Only Guide to a Winning Investment Strategy You’ll Ever Need” completely upended not just my perspective on investment strategy, but the entire course of my career. Because of this book, I took a summer job as an unpaid intern at Buckingham Strategic Wealth… and as they say, the rest is history. If there was only one book I could recommend to help you build a solid, foundational understanding of evidence-based investing, this would be the one.

I hope that these five goals help to bring you to a new level of financial wellness in 2022 and beyond. If you are looking for some support along your journey, the team at Buckingham Strategic Wealth would welcome the opportunity to learn more about your unique circumstances and to help you to develop a plan to support your goals in 2022 and beyond.

Adam Birenbaum is the CEO of Buckingham Strategic Wealth. This content is for informational and educational purposes only.