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12 Financial Resolutions
By Raymond James

Instead of hauling out those familiar New Year’s resolutions about eating less and exercising more, how about focusing on something that’s also very good for you in the long run – and even sooner? We’re talking about your financial plan – your fiscal health, if you will. The approach of a new year – or any time, for that matter – is a great time to review your plan and make whatever revisions might be indicated. With that in mind, here are 12 suggested resolutions that, if followed, could help you go a long way toward attaining your financial goals.

GET YOUR BALANCE SHEET IN ORDER

You can’t realistically expect to reach a goal without knowing where you’re starting from. Using December 31 as the effective date, update your personal balance sheet (assets versus liabilities, broadly speaking). You should already have – or develop if you don’t – an idea of what you’re going to need to reach important financial goals. If you’re already retired, you also need to know if the income you receive from Social Security, pensions, retirement plan assets or other sources is still going to support your current lifestyle. Either way, you’ve got to have a scorecard. Everything else really proceeds from this, so take the time to bring all these numbers up to date.

REVIEW YOUR BUDGET AND SPENDING HABITS

How close did you come to what you had planned to spend last year? Where did you go off-track and what can you do about that? Has something fundamental changed in your life that affected your expenses, and is that a onetime item or an ongoing cost? Where can you trim expenses? Although some budget items are fixed, a sharp pencil can produce significant savings on other costs. Some businesses engage in a process called zero-based budgeting in which every anticipated expense must be justified again every year (at the personal level, this approach is sometimes called zero-sum budgeting). In other words, the $2,500 you spent last year on travel would have nothing to do with what you budget for travel this year. Instead, you start with what you realistically expect to have as income, then assign those dollars to your various expense categories, while also maintaining flexibility to account for cost areas such as healthcare that can’t be pinned down precisely.

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Raymond James financial advisors may only conduct business with residents of the states and/or jurisdictions for which they are properly registered. Therefore, a response to a request for information may be delayed. Please note that not all of the investments and services mentioned are available in every state. Investors outside of the United States are subject to securities and tax regulations within their applicable jurisdictions that are not addressed on this site. Contact your local Raymond James office for information and availability.

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