I’m revved up for the new year. I like to think about the books I’ll read, the new projects I’ll work on, and my new financial goals.
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What I’ve accomplished during 2017 inspires me to keep it rolling. I pulled off some difficult projects at work and earned a top evaluation rating and raise. I finished an 18-credit certificate in Web Programming. I started this blog. Learning WordPress on my own and customizing the blog page was a challenge, but the struggle stretched my skillset. Blogging isn’t just about writing. It’s learning about social media, like Facebook, Pinterest, affiliate marketing, guest posting, and commenting on other blogs. My professional development wasn’t ignored. I conducted two financial planning workshops and presented at the IRS Practice and Procedures conference with the New York State Society of CPAs.
I could settle for contentment with my employer retirement accounts and IRAs and stay with my regular contribution levels in the same funds that I have. Instead, I chose to probe into the concept of asset allocation and look at all of my holdings in entirety. See my asset allocation post. I read from different sources and put together a plan.
After opening a Health Savings Account (HSA) in 2016, I learned of a one-time traditional IRA conversion to fund the 2018 contribution. See Related Post End of Year Money Moves and my guest post in My Strategic Dollar’s site.
I responded to questions in my financial planning workshops. People are confused and I intend to provide clarity. People have no financial direction and, frustrated, take no action. People are buried under debt and think there’s no way out. I propose to educate as many people as possible on the basics and promote not only financial literacy but the attitude that helps people help themselves.
What To Start Doing
Start a favorable course of actions. Instead of repeating a negative cycle of staying in debt, not opening up an IRA account, pretending to not know what to do, etc., start a positive cycle of being mindful, saving, and not spending. One sensible action leads to the next; consistency feeds consistency.
Save some money. Set up your investment accounts now. Pay down your debt and figure out how to cover your basic bills. Check your withholding early in the year while you still have time to do adjust it. Contribute to your IRA in advance of the deadline, not within a week of the deadline when you have other financial obligations.
Find the silver lining in your situation. If you haven’t started saving for retirement yet, know that you can. Make a phone call, everyone can do that. Don’t sit and complain that you don’t know what to do. Trust me, banks and brokerage firms talk to people all the time that don’t know the basics. They will guide you. Ask them to help you set up an account and set up automatic deposits. If you don’t set up automatic deposits, at least link your bank account electronically so that making deposits is easy.
What To Stop Doing
Maybe it’s not what you do this year, but what you don’t do. Here’s what I’m talking about. My husband’s cell phone rang early on Saturday, December 30th, 2017, the last Saturday of the year. It was a co-worker complaining that he was sent a letter from a law firm to decide on an IRA’s Required Minimum Distribution method before Monday, January 1, or be forced to take a distribution and be assessed a penalty. He claims he was given two days’ notice. My husband was listening on speaker and I started answering from the adjacent room. His friend went on to blame the lawyer for the situation and when I suggested he print and scan the letter back to the lawyer, he sounded as if I asked him to solve the string theory of mathematics.
Complaints and excuses, a professional’s nightmare. Clients that don’t listen. Every action is a mountain-climbing feat or a life-or-death emergency. This guy was all of these things.
If you handle financial issues by waiting until the final Saturday of the year and then blame the bank, your accountant, lawyer, or H&R Block, stop. Just stop. Stop the blaming. It’s no one else’s fault.
In the crisis above, when I prompted this guy, he admitted knowing about his mom’s IRA back in July. He knew back then that he had to do something but chose to be an ostrich.
This behavior needs to stop.
I have known people all my life who wait until the very last minute to take care of their adult issues. One of my friends would actually wait until the final day before cancellation of his car insurance to pay the premium. Of course, getting up and going to the insurance office to drop off the check was a full-day project for him. That’s not the way to be a successful, productive person. Get ahead of your business. Start using the calendar in your phone to set reminders in advance.
Stop blaming others for the job that you hate. Take a class that will build on your skills. Go to school at night for a higher paying career. Make yourself marketable and find alternatives.
If you can’t find alternatives, I encourage you to Google the name Kyle Maynard. Wait, I’ll make it easy for you, here’s his website: http://kyle-maynard.com. I caught a clip of Kyle on Tim Ferriss’ talk show. Kyle was born with no hands or feet, just four half-limbs. He managed to get himself into the wrestling hall of fame. Why? Because he found alternatives.
If Kyle could find alternatives to become a successful wrestler, you can find alternatives to whatever the complaint of the day is.
I am constantly looking for inspiration. You Are a Badass by Jen Sincero is my latest choice. I finished You Are a Badass At Making Money. In both, the author uses artful language to instill a sense of invincibility. Now, I’m all for affirmations and thinking positively, and l’ve read all of Norman Vincent Peale’s books. I was looking for something more that daydreaming and the money version of Badass came through. The basic Badass message is to embrace your innate talents and go for it.
In the money sequel, my takeaway message was not only to think about money (pretty much generic) but to go ahead with spending what you need to launch your venture. If it means coaching, training, acquiring a skillset, do it. Simply dreaming about a lucrative venture will not get you there, you have to do something and step on the path to wealth.
I like to use others’ experiences to raise my bar. After seeing Kim Kardashian’s Instagram report on the stock she received from Kanye, it gives me impetus to reach a higher investment level. My Disney account may not have 900 shares in it, but if I get to 300, or close to it, hey I did what I could. I haven’t sold millions of albums or been on a magazine cover, but if I own one-third of what they have, I’d consider that pretty good. Of course, I’d have to work on Netflix, Adidas, Apple, and Amazon. Good thing I have a head start on all, except for Adidas. It’s something to work toward, and the effort is all that matters.
Advancing Financial Knowledge
Mass-marketed financial books include those by Suze Orman, David Bach, and Dave Ramsey. Those provide excellent roadmaps for the basics. I’m looking for deeper analyses, like what I read in The Big Retirement Risk. This pick was something that I impulsively pulled off the library shelf. To my pleasant surprise, Erin Botsford explained a significant theory. When you retire, you can own a copious amount of assets, but if you don’t generate enough income to pay your monthly electric bill, you won’t get by. The book outlined her recommendations for meeting monthly income needs when a salary is no longer a given.
That’s how I plan on picking my next set of financial books, unknown authors with extensive career experience that educate past the fundamentals.
Getting back to my 2018 potential: I will be adding to my HSA’s investment account, setting new savings goals, funding all my retirement accounts to the max, and furthering my investment research.
Make 2018 a propitious year. Stay open to new ideas. Take on some new habits, leave the old behind, and never stop looking for answers.