Finance

15 Financial Moves for 2015

15 Financial Moves for 2015 | www.TheHeavyPurse.comWill 2015 be your year? That is the question we all face. We want it to be the year we achieve the goals we set for ourselves and to be able to start 2016 in a strong place financially. But it doesn’t just happen because you want it. You have to do the work and make smart decisions that put you ahead at the end of year.

In honor of 2015 and my hope to help make it a strong financial year for you, let’s examine 15 smart financial moves to make this year.

1. Know Your Current Reality

This is where it all begins and some always want to skip this step. But before you can get ahead, you have to know where you stand right now. It’s time open up the books and figure out your net worth.

Net worth is simply your assets (cash, investments, real estate or things of value you own) minus your liabilities (mortgage, car loans, student loans and consumer debt). Most of us will see a negative number due to a mortgage. Don’t panic and hide. Dig deeper.

It’s important to differentiate the types of debt to first, so you can see clearly where you need to make changes. To make sure you remain on track to both payoff debts like mortgage and student loans in a timely fashion while also still being able to have the life you want.

2. Start an Emergency Fund

While I hope many of you already have one established, if not, then now is the time to start one. I recommend having an emergency fund that can cover 6-12 months of expenses. It may seem like a lot, but as many experienced during the Great Recession, time and money go quickly.

3. Follow a Budget

Many try to follow a budget in their head. This rarely works. More often than not, you spend more money then you intended. Budgets are not restrictive. They give you the freedom to spend your money on what you want or to be mindful. They are as complicated as you make them and there are plenty of online tools that can help simplify the process too. It’s time to flip the switch and develop a budget mindset.

Tip: Start by simply tracking your spending. It will be an eye-opening experience as many people do not realize how they spend their money. Now that you do, you can make decisions on how you want to use your money.

4. Eliminate Debt

Debt, particularly consumer debt, robs us of our freedom to choose how we spend our time and money. Take a careful look at the debt you have and how you got into debt. Was it because you played keep up or spent mindlessly? It’s important to understand why you spent more than you could afford to avoid repeating the cycle. Now build a plan to eliminate your debt for good.

5. Set Goals

I find people without goals tend to spend more mindlessly because they have no reason to tell themselves no. Goals give your money purpose, so figure out what you want to do with your money. Make sure your goals are authentic, meaning they make you happy and weren’t set to please others. Use your goals to guide your money decisions by asking yourself, “Will this bring me closer or further away from goals” when you find something you want but don’t need.

Tip: Share you goals with your family, so you are working together towards a common goal.

6. Know How Money You Need to Save

Do you know how much money you need to achieve your goals? Many don’t set solid, reasonable amounts. They guess-estimate or worse – have no idea. Don’t make that mistake. Calculate the amount of money you need to achieve every goal you have so that you can save appropriately. You don’t want to think you can retire, buy a home or whatnot to only discover you can’t.

7. Have a Solid Investment Strategy

My guess is after you calculated the amount of money you needed to create your ideal life, you might have experienced a bit of sticker shock and wondered how you could possibly save enough money. And it’s unlikely you can save enough to fund those dreams. You will also need to invest those savings to create the wealth you need in a timely manner.

This scares some people, but investments are not as intimidating as you may think. Take the time to educate yourself. Don’t fall prey to hype and remember what might be a great investment for someone else, doesn’t automatically make it right for you. If you still feel uncertain, don’t be afraid to seek professional help either.

Review and Rebalance Current Investments

Many people have at least a 401k plan and may have other investments likes IRAs. Be sure to periodically review your investments to rebalance as needed.

8. Review Protection Needs

This goes beyond your auto and homeowner insurance, but your personal protection insurance that isn’t required but needed to protect your family. Review your life, disability and long-term care insurance needs. Many people avoid insurance because they don’t like to think about their mortality or what if scenarios. I don’t necessarily like to think about those things either, but I have seen the aftermath of not being properly protected and it is not pretty. Insurance gives me the peace of mind of knowing that my family will be okay financially if something should happen to me.

9. Create, Review or Update Your Will or Estate Plan

Much like insurance, people tend to put off creating a will or estate plan. If you have kids, this is an absolute must, as guardian designation is part of your will. If there is no will, the state will determine who will care for your children on your behalf. Additionally, you worked hard for your assets and want to make sure they benefit who you choose.

10. Review and Update Beneficiary Forms

This is an easy to-do that many of us overlook. We fill out those forms once and forget about them. The reality is our lives are constantly changing and who we selected as our beneficiary 10 years ago may not be the person you want to receive the money today. Review these forms every year and make updates as needed. Please note that beneficiary designations override your will or estate plan.

11. Review Your Credit Report

With all the security hacks at large retailers and constant threat of identity theft, this is an absolute must. Review the information as many times you will find innocent errors, unrelated to a stolen identity. This gives you a chance to correct mistakes, so when and if you need to apply for a loan, they will be able to see the most accurate picture of how you use credit.

You are entitled to one free credit report every 12 months from each of the three major consumer reporting agencies – Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. You can request your free report at AnnualCreditReport.com.

12. Plan Your Charitable Giving

While giving is certainly optional, I am firm believer that sharing enriches our lives. Our lives may not be perfect, but we also have so much to be grateful for, which we sometimes forget. Giving helps us appreciate what we have, rather than feel entitled to it and more. Figure out now who you want to share your money with this year and how much you plan to set aside for giving.

Tip: Giving is more than money too. Volunteering and donating goods count too and are excellent ways to involve your children too.

13. Find Ways to Save and Earn More

In other words, make sure you are firmly in the driver’s seat of your finances. Review your bills and see if there are ways to lower your costs. Call companies and see if you can get a lower rate. The worst they can say is “no” and comparison shop before calling to see if you can find better prices elsewhere. Knowing your willingness to leave for a better price, increases the likelihood they will match the price. Most importantly, make sure you are spending money on things that make your heart happy and you use.

Most of us have some waste in our spending, but there comes a point where you’ve really taken all the fat out of our budget. Now it’s time to look for ways to earn more. This doesn’t necessarily mean getting a second job, although it could. A side hustle could eventually out-earn your primary job so don’t overlook this option.

Another consideration is to find ways to increase your skills so you can earn promotions with higher salaries or do more networking so you are positioned to learn about new jobs quickly and be referred. Don’t forget about earning passive income by maximizing your investment growth potential.

14. Make Money Conversations a Part of Your Daily Family Life

Money has been taboo in our homes for far too long. Resolve to make 2015 the year that money is no longer shrouded in secret in your home. You communicate with your spouse about money openly — no more money secrets! Help your kids build a healthy relationship with money and show them how to use their money wisely.

15. Read The Heavy Purse

Last, but certainly not least, continue reading The Heavy Purse. You’ll always find great tips on talking to kids about money and much, much more. Connect with us on Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook, Feedly and Bloglovin.

Shannon

The Heavy Purse Store is now open! My new downloadable Money Club Workbooks are now on sale. Each workbook provides five targeted lessons to help you raise Financially Confident Kids. Please check them out in The Heavy Purse Store.

January 26, 2015  •  29 Comments  •  Finance

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  1. Monday, January 26th, 2015
    This covers it all pretty much! There's a little something for everyone. And I will say that while everyone's goals will be different, getting out of debt and the emergency fund are a must!
    • Shannon Ryan
      Monday, January 26th, 2015
      Thanks, Natalie. Absolutely agree, if you have debt to eliminate that needs to be a priority as does setting up an emergency fund, which is too often overlooked.
  2. Monday, January 26th, 2015
    As a part of our "gazelle intense" year, we are constantly on the lookout for ways to save more and earn more. It's so important when working to achieve lofty goals that you keep educating yourself.
    • Shannon Ryan
      Monday, January 26th, 2015
      It's definitely important to constantly educate yourself. We never stop learning and being on the lookout for ways to earn and save money can be instrumental in helping you achieve goals.
  3. Monday, January 26th, 2015
    What an awesome list Shannon! I'd agree on each and every one of them. Our big focus this year is to ramp up stuff for our oldest with regards to teaching her about money and doing more so with our middle child.
    • Shannon Ryan
      Monday, January 26th, 2015
      Love it, John! It's always interesting since that is something that too many people fear, but it's actually a lot of fun. You and Nicole will certainly enjoy it and your children will have better lives because of it.
  4. Monday, January 26th, 2015
    "Knowing your current reality" seems so basic - but it's surprising how many people don't. I know the feeling, when we finally woke up and came to the realization we had to do something about our debt, we didn't know how much we really owed, we didn't know how we were spending our money, or the total of our expenses each month. You can't change anything until you know your current reality!
    • Shannon Ryan
      Monday, January 26th, 2015
      I know, Travis. It seem so basic and like you said, so many people don't know their currently reality. If you want to get ahead, you need to know where you start today, no matter how scary it may look. I'm glad you took control of your finances and understanding your current reality.
  5. Monday, January 26th, 2015
    Great information shannon! Even for us financially (er, somewhat) savvy people having a checklist is handy.
    • Shannon Ryan
      Monday, January 26th, 2015
      Thanks, Tonya. A checklist is always handy and sometimes we, financially savvy, people can be the most forgetful too. :)
  6. Monday, January 26th, 2015
    Excellent tips! I think that reviewing your benefits at work is something that people should be doing ASAP. After all, there may be an ESPP, HSA, or 401k program sponsored by your employer that you don't even know about. It drives me crazy when I talk to people at work and a majority don't even know the full benefits available to us. They end up missing out on some of their perks because most require some sort of action on the part of the employee (i.e. to opt in, for one).
    • Shannon Ryan
      Monday, January 26th, 2015
      Very true, DC. People don't take advantage of their full benefits, which is a real shame as there are many perks that they overlook. The worst part is doesn't taken to fill out those forms too! It's well worth a few minutes of their time.
  7. Monday, January 26th, 2015
    #8 its home with me. I didnt realize how many people will need to take extended time away from work because they get really sick or get hurt. So I bought more disability insurance through work. It doesnt cost very much.
    • Shannon Ryan
      Monday, January 26th, 2015
      Disability insurance is something a lot of people gamble that they won't need. But the statistics prove otherwise. Again, I think many people don't want to consider the possibility of a permanent disability, but it happens. As does short-term disabilities, which can cause significant financial woes too.
  8. Monday, January 26th, 2015
    This is a great list Shannon, especially reading The Heavy Purse!!! :-) I just spoke with new clients today and knowing your reality was a HUGE challenge for them. They honestly had no idea if they were in good shape or not because they never took the time to sit down and figure it out. After a 2 hour phone conversation, though, they realized the importance of realizing where they are to figure out where they will go.
    • Shannon Ryan
      Monday, January 26th, 2015
      Thanks, Shannon! I'll add read the Financially Blonde too, because we blondes need to stick together. :) It's amazing how many people don't know their current financial reality. Many times it's because they are scared of what they might uncover, but knowing is always 100% better. Sometimes you're not in as bad of shape as you thought and if you are - well, now you are in a position to do something about it. And that is what matters! Glad your clients have you to help them out and figure out where they stand.
  9. Monday, January 26th, 2015
    I love #15! I wonder if we don't talk about money too much. I heard my daughter tell one of her friends that she had $200 in the bank, which is a good thing, but do you have a tip about getting little kids to not overshare?
    • Shannon Ryan
      Monday, January 26th, 2015
      Awww, thanks, Kim! That's a great question. Young kids have a difficult time not sharing, so I try to make sure what we teach is something that I'm comfortable with them talking to their friends about. I don't mind the girls sharing what their goals are or how much they have saved, although we do still try to have them talk in more general terms when it comes to dollar amounts. We definitely keep our family money matters more general as we do consider that private family information. So they know what we are saving for and can help make choices on how we spend our money, but we don't always give them dollar amounts, especially when they were little. Now that they are better older, we share more but we can also be more frank with them that families should openly communicate with each other, but we don't share financial details (i.e. dollar amounts) with others. It's definitely a balance!
  10. Monday, January 26th, 2015
    Great tips Shannon! My husband and I decided to do a full financial review this year given some of the big decisions we are weighing, so I'm pleased to report we'll be crossing off most of these items in 2015. :)
    • Shannon Ryan
      Monday, January 26th, 2015
      Thanks, Kerry! A full financial review makes great sense given the decisions you'll be making this year. If I can be of any help, just let me know!
  11. Monday, January 26th, 2015
    This is all great advice. I have always been relatively frugal, but this year I embarked on a Less is More project. It's going along well, and I expect to take it even further than I had initially planned. Living simply is very enjoyable!
    • Shannon Ryan
      Tuesday, January 27th, 2015
      Thanks! Yes, living simple and mindfully can be very awarding. Clearing out the clutter really gives you the space to live life. Thanks for stopping by and commenting!
  12. Tuesday, January 27th, 2015
    This year we'll focus on growing our businesses and also saving more money. We did well the past years, but there's always room for improvement. Tracking our expenses and budgeting are already good habits that save us money and help us set better goals.
    • Shannon Ryan
      Tuesday, January 27th, 2015
      Tracking expenses and budgeting is definitely key, Dojo. I'm glad you're already doing it and seeing the difference it can make too!
  13. Tuesday, January 27th, 2015
    These are great, Shannon- especially the last one! =) Anyone would be better off if they followed at least some of this advice.
    • Shannon Ryan
      Tuesday, January 27th, 2015
      Thanks, Holly!
  14. Wednesday, January 28th, 2015
    Hello Shannon, I always read your post, which is part of my financial moves. I just love your article as it is brief and concise. And it's really providing me what I need in terms of strategies in debt repayment and teaching kids about money. I love the 15 financial moves!
  15. Wednesday, January 28th, 2015
    All great tips Shannon! I am doing most all of these already. Plus, I've started emailing with an accountability partner to help me stay on track with using my extra income to get ahead financially instead of spending it all on going out to eat or shopping mindlessly. So far, so good!
  16. Tuesday, February 17th, 2015
    Great list.

    My wife and I are really focused on #13 and #14 this year. Its really something we started focusing a lot starting last year. But still tons of room for improvement.

    Cheers!
Shannon Ryan SHANNON RYAN, CFP®
  • Meet Shannon

    "As a Certified Financial Planner, it is my passion to help individuals and families build a healthy relationship with money. I look forward to helping you raise financially confident kids.” - Shannon Ryan
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