5 Smart Money Moves to Make in 2024By Katherine M. Dean, CFP® | January 25, 2024
If getting a fresh start on your financial well-being is one of your top priorities for the new year, you’ve got plenty of company.
In a recent Forbes Health/One Poll survey, “improve finances” was the second most commonly selected resolution for 2024. (“Improve fitness” took the No. 1 spot.)
Obviously, focusing on your financial health is something we at Opal Wealth Advisors can get behind at any time. Committing to better money management doesn’t have to be boring, stressful or restricting. Instead, it can be empowering, as you successfully work toward your short- and long-term goals. But unless you lay down some specific objectives, it can be a tough resolution to stick to.
If you’re eager to improve your financial fitness, our Ultimate 2024 Financial Planning Checklist is filled with tips and strategies that can help. In the meantime, here are five smart money moves to consider as you get started.
1. Take a Quick Look Back at 2023
Think about what worked for you in 2023, and what didn’t. Are there any obvious challenges you could address in 2024?
To jog your memory, it can be a good idea to review your past year’s bank and credit card statements. This could help you identify where your money is going every month, and whether your budget is still working for you. (If you haven’t been using a budget, that might be another good step to take this year. Opal’s Monthly Budget Guide can help with this process.)
You might be surprised by how many unused subscriptions or memberships are sneaking by on autopay. And actually seeing how much you’re paying in fees and interest for various loans or credit cards could help motivate you to make some changes.
2. Set Some Goals for 2024
If you’ve decided to direct more money toward your savings, investments or debt this year, it’s helpful to write down your intentions in detail.
- Are you saving for a specific purchase, or do you want to add to your emergency fund? How much can you commit to setting aside from each paycheck without feeling “savings poor” (and giving up)? Would it make sense to move some money to a high-yield savings account, Certificate of Deposit (CD), or some other option that would help you grow your money faster?
- How much more could you contribute to your retirement plan every month and still feel comfortable? Retirement savers can put up to $23,000 in a 401(k) or similar plan in 2024, and those who are 50 or older can add a “catch-up contribution” of $7,500 to that amount. If you have a traditional or Roth IRA, the contribution limit is $7,000 in 2024, and the catch-up contribution limit is $1,000.
- Paying down high-interest credit card debt is another wise move to consider. Whether you choose to target the bill with the highest balance or the one with the highest interest rate, putting even just a little more toward your debt this year could go a long way in helping you reach important goals like buying a new home or retiring sooner.
3. Strengthen the Security of Your Online Accounts
Cyber theft was rampant in 2023, and it’s expected to be a big problem again this year. You don’t have to wait until you’ve fallen victim to a phishing scam or data breach to take action.
To protect yourself, why not set aside a few hours to update and strengthen the passwords on your financial accounts? Or you could take it further and enable two-factor authentication (2FA) steps recommended by your bank, credit card, or investment company.
It’s also a good idea to check your bank account and credit card balances on a regular basis (at least weekly). This is one of the best ways to catch errors and potential fraud, so you can protect your identity and your money.
4. Review Important Financial Reports Regularly
Keeping tabs on your credit, your retirement accounts, and your Social Security benefits can also help you stay on track with your financial goals.
- You can now request a free weekly credit report from each of the three major credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion) at annualcreditreport.com. And many financial institutions and credit card companies now provide free credit scores to their customers. If you aren’t up for a weekly check-in, it still can be useful to get an update every few months or at least once a year.
- If the ups and downs of the stock market make you anxious, you may not want to look at your retirement account activity too often. But reviewing your statements quarterly with your Opal financial advisor can help you decide if your current asset allocation fits with your goals or if you might need to make some adjustments.
- You’ll probably want to review your Social Security statement more frequently the closer you get to retirement. But even if you’re several years away, you can create an account at ssa.gov/myaccount/ to get an estimate of what your retirement benefits might be and to check your earnings history for errors.
5. Schedule a Meeting with Your Financial Advisor
Many of the steps listed above are things you can do on your own. But when it comes to managing your overall financial plan and building an investment portfolio that can help you reach your goals, your best bet is to consult regularly with an experienced and knowledgeable financial advisor.
At Opal Wealth Advisors, we can help you prepare for the events that might impact your finances in 2024. And we can build a financial plan that evolves as you move through each stage of your life. Schedule time with us today, and let’s turn this year’s resolution into reality.
Sources: Forbes, CNBC, FinanceBuzz, Kiplinger.
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