Maybe it would be easier if we had a different resolution for each month? That way we would only have to forego chocolate and be on time for a mere 4 weeks, not a whole bloomin’ year! (Okay, now you know my resolutions….)
If you, too want to feel fabulous this year because you actually accomplished your resolutions (note I did not say LOOK fabulous – hey, I’m a financial planner, not a personal trainer), here are my suggested New Year’s Resolutions for the first 6 months of 2010. Next week I’ll give you the last 6 months (don’t want to scare ya):
January – Set up an automatic savings plan.
Yes, I know that many of you are doing this in your employer’s retirement plan already. That is great. But what about all the other spending you are going to do between now and then? Wouldn’t it be great to get to December 2010 and have your holiday presents paid for with a nice little stash of moolah? Or what about that anniversary trip or that in-law apartment or your 11 year old’s braces (oh yeah, no dental plan on earth will cover that cost).
Setting up an auto savings plan at your bank or brokerage takes about 2 minutes and then you can check this one off your list.
February – Protect Yourself.
No one ever reviews their insurance policies. Ever. Until it’s too late. So, take an hour or two around Valentine’s Day (after all, this is really about your loved ones, not you) and make sure your property coverage AND your life insurance coverage have kept up with the times. If the only life insurance you have is through an employer-paid plan, you might want to explore some supplemental coverage, JUST IN CASE YOU LOSE YOUR JOB…
March – Plan and Budget For That Summer Vacation.
In the Northeast we actually do this in January, but it’s really more about pining for warmer climes, than being organized…. Don’t wait until June to figure out what you are going to do for vacation. Take two hours, investigate the deals out there and then set aside the money (or up your automatic savings plan-see above)
April- Examine Your Spending.
Now that the 1st quarter of 2010 is out of your pocketbook, see where you spent your money and figure out if there’s anything you want to change about your spending habits. I did NOT use the word “budget” here, but this is a good time to see if you are on track…
May – Create a Debt Repayment Plan
If your credit card is still trying to swallow the beast that IS holiday spending, stop now and figure out how you are going to get that thing paid off before you start all over again. And now is as good a time as any to check mortgage rates, your ARM that’s about to explode or any other debt you are carrying. Run some projections at your current payoff rate and see how many years you will be owing someone else. That should scare you into action.
June -Max Out Your Retirement
You are almost halfway through the year. Are you going to max out what you can put away for retirement? If not, adjust your contribution percentages at work or make your IRA contribution now.
The 401k contribution limit for 2010 is $16, 500 with a 50+ catch up of an additional $5,500.
IRA contributions for 2010 are $5,000 with a 50+ catch up of an additional $1,000.
Total time to accomplish your first 6 resolutions: 6-10 hours. How efficient is that?!
Photo by: Maxine Simpson