What would make this a really good year for you? Here are our suggestions for seven things to help you make 2017 a good year, personally and financially. Why just seven? A famous study in 1956 by psychologist George Miller suggested that most people can only recall seven items in a series, so we offer you this instead of a top 10 list. We wish you all the best for the holidays and the year ahead.
1. Ask yourself “What would make this a really great year?”
This question is probably easier because it is more incremental, and within reach. More time with your spouse and family? Less debt? More money in education and retirement accounts? A specific vacation? Completely free Fridays? Earn more money? Lose weight?
2. Ask yourself “Where do I want to be five or 10 years from now?” This question is much harder. Thinking beyond five years forces you out of the incremental mode and to think out of the box. Do you see yourself in the job? Do you see yourself living in the same home? Do you see your children in or out of college without big debt loads? What about the quality of relationships with your spouse and children? Do you see yourself retired or working part time? And if so, what will you do with that extra time?
3. Write down your answers, to these two major questions, then—most importantly—prioritize them. Some of your goals may be contradictory, such as more money vs. time with your family. Rethink your one-year goals in view of the longer-term ones—let the longer goals drive the shorter term ones.
4. Ask, “What can I do to achieve these goals?”
It’s one thing to write them down. It’s quite another to develop a plan of action to meet them. Not everything takes money such as taking the stairs instead of the elevator, a game night with your family, a date night with your spouse, or a commitment to be home by a definite time every evening. But for those financial items, just how much money will it take to reach them? How much do I need to set aside every month to make these important goals a reality? That leads to the next one:
5. Discover your “number.”
How much do you need to safely “retire” or to be financially independent? Part of discovering your number is learning how to do it--how much to invest, how to get a reasonable return without taking too much risk, and how to eventually exit your practice at a fair price.
Retirement starts with a vision, followed by careful planning and consistent investing. It’s also a confidence game. You really won’t be able to fully enjoy retirement if you lack the confidence that you have done all that you needed to do. That’s where we can help you develop a comprehensive financial plan could make this a good year for you.
6. Cut back on financial noise.
We are all bombarded with distracting media noise on many subjects. This noise fills our spare time and distracts us from our goals. In the financial realm, all of this overload and confusion out there can be divided into a spectrum:
DATA ≥ INFORMATION ≥ KNOWLEDGE ≥ WISDOM
So much of what is out there really falls into the data and information categories, kind of like the news. They may be timely, but they are not timeless. (Do you remember exactly what the Dow Jones index and the headlines were six months ago today?)
Data and information are noise. They crowd out knowledge. And knowledge without a sense of perspective and experience cannot become wisdom. So, before you read that next financial magazine, surf the Web, or tune into that TV financial news show, spare yourself the overload and save some time and peace of mind.
7. Appreciate, Recreate, and Celebrate!
In this fast paced world and the hectic lives we all run, it is more important than ever to take the time to enjoy the life you have now. And it’s great practice for retirement. Lee Eisenberg, in his book called The Number, lays it out for us. The first one—know how to give something back to others—is something that most of our clients know how to do. But try to focus in 2017 on the other two:
- Appreciate the importance of fun, kicking back and laughter.
- Know the value of friendship, camaraderie and support and hang around with people who give you these.
Don’t have a happy new year--make it one!