Ready or not we are only weeks away from 202; it’s time for your annual list of New Year’s resolutions.
While living healthier, losing weight or exercising is nearly always at the top of list, saving more or spending less or improving your finances is generally near the bottom of the top 10. Maybe they should move to the top.
According to one study, only 9 percent of those surveyed said they were successful in keeping their resolutions by the end of the year. Perhaps that’s why less than a quarter of Americans still make a list.
Financial resolutions make a lot of sense to anyone, but especially for Seniors and retirees. Here is a list of five recommended by financial planners.
“Oftentimes, if you’re mindful of what you’re spending, you spend less, and therefore save money,” says Brooke May, managing partner at Evans May Wealth in Indianapolis, Indiana. “I typically go back, and I look at all my transactions for the last 90 days and then put them into categories. I average them on a monthly calculation. And then I can kind of see where I’m spending too much and where I’m spending less than I thought. “
She says if you do it on a regular basis you can see trends. May downloads her transactions from credit card and bank accounts to an excel spreadsheet (there are some great software tracking options available).
Talk about what is important to you financially
“If we look at the number one cause for divorce or relation relationship issues, a lot of that stems around money because people are not on the same page,” says Nick Foulks, at Great Waters Financial in Minneapolis. “So, get on the same page about the finances, vocalize what it is you desire, what it is you hope for and what it is that gives you peace of mind. What does it mean for you as an individual or as a couple to feel financially stable? Once you feel financially stable, that’s what gives you permission to go and do and live and have experiences.”
“Talk to your family about money values, and what you want out of your desired legacy,” advises May. “Seventy percent of families lose their wealth by the second generation and 90% of families by the third generation. If those conversations are had early on, there can be a big difference in the outcome for our family and your legacy.”
Check and update your beneficiary designations
Once people go through the financial planning process, they often set aside their plan and forget about it, May says. But things often change. Many financial planners have stories of clients who forgot to update a beneficiary resulting in assets going to someone other than who they were intended for. “Grandchildren are born, or some beneficiaries predecease you,” May says. “And if you make a habit of reviewing those on an annual basis, nothing gets overlooked.
Unsubscribe from recurring fees and subscriptions
According to Candy Valentino, author of Wealth Habits, you can get as much as $500 a month back by deleting sneaky re-occurring fees. “It’s amazing how many pesky fees you accumulate from recurring charges — whether it’s free trials expiring, or other subscriptions you may no longer use. You can even work with service providers to help lower other bills.”
Don’t forget to dream
“We get caught a lot of times in society today with all the have-tos, all the things that we have to do to remain financially in a good place, all the things we have to do to (get)… out of debt, all the bills we have to pay,” says Foulks. “Once we get past the have-tos, what drives what we want to do? If everything is all work and bills, it becomes this vicious and depressing cycle and people start asking themselves later on, what was it all for?
He says you should get a better understanding of what your money is doing, and then have a conversation with yourself or your spouse about what you want your money to do, he says. “And then give yourself permission to dream about what do you and ask yourself what you want to experience this year and how do you create a plan to do those things?”
Rodney A. Brooks is the former deputy managing editor/Money at USA TODAY. His retirement columns appear in U.S. News & World Report and Senior Planet.com. He has written for National Geographic, The Washington Post and USA TODAY. The author of “Fixing the Racial Wealth Gap,” Brooks has testified before the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging. His website is www.rodneyabrooks.com.
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