Are you wondering what you can be doing in January to set yourself up financially this year? We’ve come up with three things you should be doing now.
- Adjust the amount of taxes that are withheld from your paycheck.
If you usually get a refund or owe money to the IRS, you can adjust the amount of tax withheld in your paycheck by completing IRS form W-4 and submitting it to your payroll department. Making the right change will either reduce your refund or reduce what you owe at tax time. Reduce your refund to avoid giving the government an interest-free loan and also to leave less money at risk of tax refund fraud. Reduce what you owe to avoid tax penalties. Ideally, you owe nothing and get nothing back when you file your return or something minimal.
- Get clarity on your financial goals and create a savings plan to achieve them.
Achieving your goals requires that you be specific about what they are. As Lewis Howes says, “You cant score unless you have goals.” When do you want to reach the goal? How much do you need? Are some goals more important to you than others? Once you know how much you need and when you need it, create a savings plan that gets you to your goal. A savings plan is best if it’s automated. So set up a savings account and start an automatic transfer to the account after each month or paycheck.
- Create a plan for your investments and stick to it.
Investing without a plan isn’t investing. It’s financial suicide. Having a plan for investing means knowing why you are investing and what your objectives are. It’s knowing in advance when you will make a change to your investments. It’s not changing investments based on what you hear from “investment gurus” or “stock pickers”. They’re not good sources of investing advice. Investing should not be an emotional decision, but rather one based on facts and planning. If you don’t have an investment plan, talk to your financial advisor about creating one.