Financial Focus – Time for Some New Year’s Financial Resolutions

Have you thought about your New Year’s resolutions for 2020?
When many of us make these promises, we focus on ways we
can improve some form of our health. We vow to get more physically
healthy by going to the gym, or we promise to improve our mental
health by learning a new language or instrument. But it’s also important
to think about our financial health – so it’s a good idea to develop some
appropriate resolutions for this area, too.
What kinds of financial resolutions might you make? Here are a few
• Increase your retirement plan contributions. One of the best financial
moves you can make is to take full advantage of your 401(k) or similar
employer-sponsored retirement plan. If you contribute pre-tax dollars
to your plan, the more you put in, the lower your taxable income will be
for the year, and your earnings can grow on a tax-deferred basis. So, if
your salary goes up in 2020, increase the amount you put into to your
plan. Most people don’t come close to reaching the annual contribution
limit, which, in 2019, was $19,000, or $25,000 for those 50 or older. You
might not reach these levels, either, but it’s certainly worthwhile to invest
as much as you can possibly afford.
• Use “found” money wisely. During the course of the next year, you
may well receive some money outside your normal paychecks, such as
a bonus or a tax refund. It can be tempting to spend this money, but you
may help yourself in the long run by investing it. You could use it to help
fund your IRA for the year or to fill a gap in another investment account.
• Don’t overreact to market downturns. You’ve probably heard stories
about people who lamented not getting in “on the ground floor” of what
is now a mega-company. But a far more common investment mistake
is overreacting to temporary market downturns by selling investments
at the wrong time (when their prices are down) and staying out of the
market until things calm down (and possibly missing the next rally).
The financial markets always fluctuate, but if you can resolve to stay
invested and follow a consistent, long-term strategy, you can avoid making
some costly errors.
• Be financially prepared for the unexpected. Even if you’re diligent
about saving and investing for your long-term goals, you can encounter
obstacles along the way. And one of these roadblocks could come in
the form of large, unexpected expenses, such as the sudden need for
a new car or some costly medical bills. If you aren’t prepared for these
costs, you might have to dip in to your long-term investments to pay for
them. To prevent this from happening, you may want to keep sufficient
cash, or cash equivalents, in your investment accounts. Or you might
want to maintain a completely separate account as an emergency fund,
with the money kept in low-risk, liquid vehicles. If possible, try to maintain
at least six months’ worth of living expenses in this account.
It will take some effort but following these resolutions could help you
move closer to your financial goals in 2020 – and beyond.
This article was written by Edward Jones for use by your local Edward
Jones Financial Advisor.

Submitted by Chuck O’Keefe

Chuck O’Keefe is a
Financial Advisor with
Edward Jones.
Edward Jones
(252) 335-0352
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