It’s hard to believe the start of a new year is nearly upon us, and that means it's time to think about mapping out your personal and professional goals for 2020.
Among vacation and bucket-list planning, hopefully you’re thinking of a few achievable financial goals that will help put you on the path toward long-term financial success. After gift-buying and decorations are done, it’s time to think about the best gift for yourself – financial goals for 2020 that will make you feel more confident and secure as you enter the new year.
Setting realistic financial goals is key to achieving success. As you start to think about the year ahead, here are some goals and strategies to consider:
1. Pay down debt. Owing money on credit cards, mortgages, vehicles and student loans is a reality many Americans contend with. Be savvy about the way you pay down debt. Prioritize high-interest debt and always pay more than your minimum.
2. Make saving simple. Pay yourself first by setting up automatic transfers from your checking account to your savings account or having some of your paycheck directly deposited into savings.
3. Track your spending. If monitoring your spending by tracking monthly expenses and daily receipts seems difficult, technology can help. Apps, along with mobile and online banking, offer solutions for tracking your spending and identifying areas where you can make cuts. Once you get your head around your spending habits, create and follow a budget to meet short-term and long-term goals.
4. Invest in yourself. Start retirement planning now. Building wealth takes time. The sooner you start investing, the better prepared you’ll be later. Make the most of your IRA and/or 401k contributions. If your employer matches your contributions, don't leave that "free money" on the table.
Sticking to new behaviors can be tough. To help hold yourself accountable, set an alert on your calendar to check in on your goals each month. If you’re struggling, try thinking of another way you might be able to reach your goal. You might start smaller and look for ways to increase your savings amount over time.
With the right planning and purpose, you will be able to build lasting habits that guide positive changes in your financial life.
Magen Tune is the senior vice president and market manager for Bank of America in Little Rock. Email her at email@example.com to ask about Bank of America’s Better Money Habits online one-stop shop with free financial resources on topics ranging from building credit and paying off debt, to understanding taxes and preparing for retirement.