New year, new you, new wallet (not literally).
If you’ve set New Year’s resolutions this year, there’s a good chance you’ve already given up, but financial pros say it’s not too late to make 2017 your year when it comes to money.
There are a few things you should consider when you’re making this year’s goals: budget, emergency savings, debt and retirement funds.
But first, you need to make sure you can stick to your goals.
“If you make a resolution, it’s what I refer to as a SMART resolution,” financial planner Marla Mason said. “So it’s specific. It’s measureable. It’s achievable. It’s realistic, and it’s timely.”
Start with the basics. Financial planner Mike Jones says you should start with a “spending plan.”
Figure out your short, medium and long-term goals, then work backwards on how much you can spend.
Jones cautions it’s areas like entertainment and shopping where people lose focus.
“It’s often times what they would consider to legitimate things that cause them to lose focus. Maybe someone gets laid off,” he said.
To cover that, Mason recommends you prioritize budgeting emergency savings, which you likely don’t have enough stocked away.
A bankrate.com survey this year found only about 4 in 10 people have enough to cover a $500 emergency with savings.
Not having enough saved for emergencies will derail everything else.
“Because you now have to divert all of your resources coming in to that emergency,” she said.
After that, experts recommend tackling debt. If you aggressively approach it without adding more, your work should snowball as each debt gets cleared.
“Then I really like to have people start saving for retirement if they haven’t done so,” financial planner Judy McNary said/
“So if they can maximize their 401k deferrals at work or save to IRAs, those are great,” she said.
Finance gurus often recommend this if your company matches contributions. It’s basically free money for your retirement. Another advantage is that those are tax-deferred accounts.
One last note: Mason says don’t be discouraged if you fall off the savings wagon.
“We all fall off of it, just so you know,” she said.
It’s just reason to try a little harder.