Jill Schlesinger, CFP
Jill On Money
2022 was a year of transition, as we tried to resume our pre-pandemic lives while also contending with a four-decade high in inflation. Despite the past grueling three-years, one area that seemed particularly consistent was our desire to get back on track with our money.
Fidelity’s 2023 New Year’s Financial Resolutions Study found that two-thirds of respondents are considering a financial resolution for 2023, a share that has remained remarkably consistent over time.
So too have the top resolutions: save more money (39 percent), pay down debt (32 percent) and spend less money (28 percent). But “for the first time in the study’s 14-year history, more Americans plan to save money for short-term goals rather than long-term goals as part of their New Year’s resolution.”
The short-term vs. the long-term shift likely has much to do with Americans’ contending with inflation and the impact that the three years of pandemic have made on our lives. Of those planning a financial resolution for the new year, the vast majority (94 percent) say they’re approaching it differently given events of the last couple years, with nearly half “considering more conservative goals. Those making financial resolutions hope to achieve ‘greater peace of mind’ and ‘live a debt-free life.’”
To help out, I am refreshing my resolution advice of year’s past:
The start of the year is an ideal time to review what’s coming in and more importantly, what’s going out. To track your cash flow, download a free app or use your bank’s app. The idea is to figure out where you stand now, how much money is available to help achieve your resolutions, and then you can create an actionable plan to fulfill them.
Many have depleted their pandemic savings to contend with higher prices. That’s why the number one priority should be replenishing or funding an emergency reserve that can cover six to 12 months of your living expenses.
Unlike the previous decade, where savers earned paltry rates on their “safe money,” many high yield savings accounts are yielding roughly 3 percent and 6-month Treasury Bills are yielding about 4.6 percent. (You can compare savings rates at depositaccounts.com or bankrate.com.)
Establish an automatic transfer of a set amount of money from your checking to build this fund. You should also use this fund to hold the money necessary to fund any large expenses that will occur over the next 12 months.
Reduce credit card or other high interest debt
With the Fed continuing to hike rates, the cost of servicing debt is not going away any time soon. After funding your emergency reserve, redirect the automatic payments to accelerate your debt pay-down, chipping away at the highest interest debt first and working your way down.
Contribute to your retirement account, to the best of your ability
The IRS announced increases to the annual limit on contributions to work-based retirement plans (401(k), 403(b), 457), which will increase to $22,500 (catch-up contributions for those over 50 increase to $7,500). The IRA limit will increase to $6,500, but the over-50 catch-up remains at $1,000.
Rebalance your investment accounts
After three stellar years of investing, 2022 challenged every investor’s nerves. While it’s human nature to feel skittish after enduring the volatility and the pain, try to avoid guessing the highs and lows - or when to get in or out of a particular market.
Instead, go back to basics: determine your goals and create a plan to diversify your investments across different asset classes. If you haven’t done so lately, rebalance your accounts to make sure that the percentages are in line with your desired allocation.
Jill Schlesinger, CFP, is a CBS News business analyst. A former options trader and CIO of an investment advisory firm, she welcomes comments and questions at email@example.com. Check her website at www.jillonmoney.com. (C)2023 Tribune Content Agency, LLC