Sometimes less is more. This could very easily be a "24 for '24" story, but I thought it would make more sense to narrow my focus down to a few small, but critical, moves you could make this year to set the stage for success.
1. See Where You Stand
Lay all your cards on the table and see what you have. Review your net worth (assets and liabilities), cash flow (income and expenses) and insurance coverage. Map out your financial goals for the year and reconfirm your longer-term goals. Write them down and prominently post them (phone, refrigerator, mirror, etc.) to keep them front and center.
2. Know Where It Goes
Really get a handle on your money this year by recording everything you spend, every day. Categorize expenses and total them up weekly or monthly. Put pen to paper or use online tools to help you do the tracking. After a few months, scrutinize each category for places to cut back or cut out altogether. Finally, save what you've cut each month. Incorporate any new income, such as a pay raise, to your debt-elimination, savings and investment programs.
3. Consolidate and Simplify
"Don't put all your eggs in one basket" is typically sound financial advice. However, having so many baskets that you can't keep track of them can defeat the purpose. It's very difficult to manage your portfolio or spending habits when your money is strewn across multiple accounts and institutions. Come up with an investment plan and consolidate your holdings into no more than a few baskets. Use automatic investments, allotments and bill pay to stay on track.
4. Save Now for Near-Term Goals
"Plan and save" is a much better financial strategy than "don't plan and borrow." Big recurring expenses such as holidays, vacations and back-to-school shopping provide the perfect opportunity to develop a monthly savings plan to accumulate, rather than borrow, the money you'll need. Would you rather make high-interest payments each month to a credit-card company or make payments to yourself that earn interest? Achieving these short-term goals will provide a clear sign that 2024 was a success.
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