For many families, 2024 may turn out to be an inflection point when their trajectory finally turns positive after three years of languishing in pandemic and post-pandemic struggles. But it’s not going to happen automatically.

Whatever your life ambitions, it takes deliberate planning and actions to make it happen. That starts with goal setting. Setting meaningful, realistic goals is critical to ensuring life happens as you want. If you can visualize it, you can make it happen.

To make next year a pivotal year for you and your family, here are ten financial goals you should consider for 2024.

Live Beneath Your Means

According to many of the world’s wealthiest self-made people, the key to building wealth is to live under your means. For the rest of us, that translates to setting lifestyle expectations a notch or two below what we think we can afford. This is less about budgeting—although that plays a critical part—and more about behavior and lifestyle choices. It is about assigning each dollar you spend to a purpose or a goal, and if it doesn’t fit the purpose or goal, it is not spent.

Develop a Strict Spending Plan

The next step is to develop a spending plan with the goal of directing a specific dollar amount each month to debt or savings. If the goal is to free up $500, that becomes the first item in your spending plan and the commitment to your goal. If you receive two paychecks each month, the first expenditure is $250 towards debt reduction or savings. Everything else is itemized as either essential (rent, food, transportation, utilities) or non-essential (new clothes, entertainment, andeverything else). When your spending plan comes up short, any adjustments should be made first with non-essential items, then essential items, but never adjust your commitment.

Create (or Increase) an Emergency Fund

If you have an emergency fund, work to increase it. You should have at least six months living expenses in a separate savings account for unexpected financial setbacks, such as a major house or car repair, medical expenses, or job loss. If you don’t have an emergency account, start one and prioritize it for your excess dollars.

Pay Off High-Interest Debt

With interest rates rising, paying down high-interest debts like credit cards and personal loans is essential. The best method to pay off credit card debt quickly is with the “debt avalanche” method. Line up your credit card accounts and commit to paying off the card with the highest interest rate first while continuing to make the minimum payments on your other cards, then repeating the process with the next highest interest rate card.

Increase Retirement Contributions

If you have a retirement savings account, such as a 401(k) or IRA, work out a plan to increase your contributions by 10 to 20 percent. At the very least, you should increase your contribution to the extent it maximizes your employer’s matching contribution.

Get Your Estate Plan in Order

With estate planning, you can never set it and forget it. Any life change—childbirth, a change in marital status, a home purchase—should prompt a review of your legal documents. That would include updating your will and living trust and ensuring your power of attorney and medical directive are up to date.

Review Your Insurance Coverages

Start with your homeowner’s insurance. Has the value of your home increased? Are your replacement limits keeping pace? Also, check your liability coverage on both your homeowners and auto insurance. If you already have the maximum liability coverage, consider a personal liability umbrella policy (very inexpensive). You should also review your life insurance policies to ensure they’re keeping pace with your family protection needs. If you have disability coverage, is the benefit amount keeping pace with your income?

Update Your Asset Allocation

The market has made big up-and-down moves over the last year. You may need to rebalance your asset allocation to ensure it is still aligned with your objectives and risk profile. It’s possible your stock allocation now exceeds your risk profile and may require shifting a portion to reduce risk in your portfolio. If you must sell some stocks to accomplish this, look for capital losses in your portfolio that can be used to offset those gains for tax purposes.

Monitor and Improve Your Credit Score

Regularly check your credit score and work on improving it by paying down debt, making on-time payments, and being responsible with credit.

Set Up a Donor-Advised Fund

Satisfy your philanthropy desires while reducing your tax liability by setting up a donor-advised fund (DAF). You can establish a DAF through a financial institution, contribute to it throughout the year, and then direct the fund advisor where and when to donate the funds.

Envision Your Financial Future

Remember that the path to achieving your financial goals for 2024 doesn’t have to be a solitary journey. I’m Joe Falbo, a dedicated retirement and life planning professional. My work, though
technically complex, revolves around a simple yet profound purpose — to assist you in preparing for every facet of your retirement life, ensuring you can pursue the highest return on life.

The good news is you don’t have to accomplish all these goals simultaneously. It’s about taking measured steps, scheduling these actions over several months, and steadily marking off each achievement. Sharing this checklist with a trusted retirement advisor like myself can significantly benefit your journey. Our collaboration can provide the guidance needed to stay on track and the accountability to ensure each goal is met with diligence.

At Falbo Wealth Management, we understand that true wealth aligns with what matters most to you. We’re here to help you define and achieve financial success on your terms. I invite you to a complimentary consultation call, where we can assess your current financial status and start developing a personalized plan to align your resources with your dream outcomes.

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The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.