Welcome to 2022! Given that 2021 wasn’t quite the fresh start we’d hoped for, a new year can be overwhelming to think about. After the intensity of the last two years and the pandemic, economic shutdown, and slow road back to “normal,” the good news is that there are actionable steps you can implement to take back control of your finances and start 2022 off on the right foot. Here are four ways to get started now.
1. Set Financial Goals
The first way to jump-start your financial plan is to set financial goals. Do you have a goal for your finances or are you just crossing your fingers and hoping you have enough for the lifestyle you want?
Specific goals with defined timelines will help to determine the best course of action, including how much risk you can and should take with your money. For instance, if you’re looking for a guaranteed source of income, then you will probably want to stick with investments that will provide long-term security. Conversely, if you are looking for substantial growth, then you might want to take on more risk and invest less conservatively. Every dollar in your portfolio should be working toward a specific goal.
Remember that the best goals will be SMART:
- Specific: The more you can identify exactly what you’re saving for, the easier it will be to work toward it.
- Measurable: As much as possible, try to identify how much your financial goal will cost. Do the research to figure out what you need to save so that you’re able to see tangible progress along the way.
- Attainable: Make sure your goal is realistic and achievable. This might require some self-reflection or reevaluation of your priorities.
- Relevant: Ask yourself which goals align with your core values. Remember that your finite assets will be split amongst your seemingly infinite list of wants. The more you can scale back your list to what is truly relevant, the quicker you’ll be able to achieve each goal.
- Timely: Identify the timeline for each goal so that you can prioritize which ones need to be addressed first and how much risk you can afford to take.
2. Build Up Your Savings
If there’s one thing the last two years have taught us, it’s that it’s crucial to prepare for the unpredictable. Whether it be a pandemic, a lost job, or rising rates of inflation, sufficient savings can mean the difference between staying afloat during uncertain times and not having enough when you need it most.
If you’re not saving already, take steps to start putting a portion of your income away every month. Usually 10-15% of pre-tax income is a good guideline. Ideally, it is recommended that most people should have at least 3-6 months’ worth of non-discretionary expenses saved in a highly liquid, easily accessible emergency fund before saving toward other goals. Either way, consistent savings are the cornerstone of any solid financial plan.
3. Reevaluate the Risk in Your Portfolio
As mentioned in Step 1, risk is fundamental to investing. Even “investing” by hiding cash under your mattress involves risk, since there’s always the chance of a break-in or increased inflation eating away at its value. To jump-start your financial plan in 2022, be sure to reevaluate the amount of risk you are taking in your overall portfolio.
It’s not uncommon for a portfolio to become unbalanced as the market ebbs and flows. What may have started out as a 60/40 allocation between stocks and bonds can easily become a 70/30 or 80/20 allocation, which is a significant difference in risk level. You may also find that you are too heavily concentrated in one type of asset or in one company’s stock. If this is the case for you, rebalancing and diversification should be explored.
Though risk is fundamental to investing, it’s also crucial that you aren’t overexposed to unnecessary risks. Take steps to evaluate your risk tolerance, based on your unique financial circumstances, stage of life, and personality, and be sure your investments align.
4. Partner With a Financial Professional
Partnering with an experienced financial advisor is a great way to take control of your finances—and get a jump-start on the future. No matter where you’re at in the planning process or what goals you’ve set for your financial life, Pinnacle Family Advisors is here to support you, guide you, and navigate your financial challenges.
With the tools and expertise to help you set financial goals, build up your emergency fund, and reevaluate your risk level, we believe that developing a vision for your future helps determine how best to get there.
If you’re ready to start planning for the new year with a team whose goal is to make your wealth work for you and not the other way around, schedule your complimentary introductory meeting by emailing me at [email protected], calling (417) 351-2942, or using my online calendar. Together let’s start 2022 off right!
Michael Vaughn is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional and Vice President at Pinnacle Family Advisors (PFA) with 20 years of industry experience. Before joining the PFA family, he served clients with investment management and retirement planning at The Mutual Fund Store for 14 years. Michael graduated from Missouri State University with a bachelor’s degree in business administration and management and earned his CFP® certification in 2004. He also served 20 years in the Missouri National Guard, retiring in 2007 as a Major. He currently volunteers on the board of directors for Good Dads and Fellowship of Christian Athletes. Michael is married to Lori and they have two daughters. To learn more about Michael, connect with him on LinkedIn.