The beginning of the new year is a perfect time to do some financial housekeeping. Over 44% of Americans set new year’s resolutions and financial goals are among the most popular. Here are some timely ones given events over the past year:
- Protect your data. Given the increasing frequency of cyber-attacks and online fraud, being vigilant over your data has become critical. After the Equifax breach, I recommended that all clients freeze their credit at the three main credit agencies, not just monitor it. It’s much easier to unfreeze your credit when needed than it is to recover from fraud or identity theft. In addition, either download a free credit report from one of the three agencies quarterly or subscribe to a credit monitoring service. Finally, doing things like using strong passwords that you change regularly and never logging into unsecured networks can significantly reduce the odds that you’ll be a victim of fraud or identity theft.
- Understand the impact of the tax bill. To better understand the impact of the tax reform bill on your personal situation, work with your tax professional or use an online calculator, such as this one by the Wall Street Journal: http://on.wsj.com/2Cwq2mJ. For those in high-cost of living and high tax states, the changes could mean much higher tax bills in 2018 and beyond. This could impact the ability to save for important goals or require spending cuts. If tightening the belt is required, here is a list of many common places people inadvertently waste money: http://cnb.cx/2Cx8l6z.
- Prepare for the worst. Given all the natural disasters in 2017, minimizing the negative impact of future ones is important. Reviewing your insurance policies to make sure you understand your coverages and are adequately insured is important. You might even work with a broker to shop your policies around and ensure you have the best coverage for your situation. Not all insurers are created equal. Another way to reduce stress and improve the claims process is to create a home inventory, either in writing or by video. Be sure to store it in the cloud or offsite. Saving receipts for high value items helps. A final way to reduce the negative impacts of a natural disaster is to create or update your disaster kit. Replace outdated items, include some spare cash and keep important documents in a fire-proof safe or easy to grab folder.
While these suggested resolutions are particularly timely given the events of the past year, there are myriad other possible financial goals like saving for important life goals, automating your finances, prioritizing your debts, and closing unnecessary accounts. If you are the type of person who likes to have multiple resolutions, maybe focus on one at a time to increase your odds of success. Here’s to a happy and healthy 2018!