1 in 3 people who create New Year’s resolutions break them by the end of January. If you’re tired of setting financial goals and not following through, we have some tips to help you achieve your goals this year.
Set SMART goals
Stop setting vague goals like “save for retirement” and choose SMART ones instead. SMART goals are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time-sensitive. If your ultimate goal is to save for retirement, a SMART goal might be to save $3,500 in a Roth IRA by the end of the year.
Pick an investment strategy
The longer you have to accomplish your financial goals, the more of a risk you can afford to take. For long terms goals like retirement, use an asset allocation calculator to help determine the right mix of stocks, bonds and cash so you’ll have a balanced portfolio. If you’re going to need your money within the next 5 years, just keep it in a savings account where it will earn interest.
Automate your savings
Whether you’re trying to pay your debt off quicker or save the down payment for a house, you need to know how much money it will take to make your dream a reality. Calculate how much you’ll need to put aside each paycheck then set up an automatic transfer to have the money deposited into your savings account every time you get paid.
Use tax-advantaged ways to save
Tax-advantaged accounts allow your investments to grow tax-free or tax-deferred, helping your money grow faster. If you’re trying to save for college, 529 plans, Coverdell Education Savings Accounts and U.S. Series I Savings Bonds are all tax-free when used for education expenses. However, if the money is withdrawn for another purpose, you will have to pay a penalty.
Keep your investment costs low
When it comes to investing, look for low-cost options. According to Morningstar’s “How Expense Ratios and Star Ratings Predict Success” report, low-cost mutual funds tend to outperform higher-cost options over time.
Re-evaluate your goals and adjust accordingly
Every now and then, re-evaluate your goals and make sure you’re on the right track. Don’t be afraid if the value of some of your investments have decreased, this is part of the normal cycle of investing. Rather than sell, this might be the perfect time to buy a few more shares while the price is low.