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Plan Well, Retire Well

New Year’s financial refresh


With the start of a new year, you should take some time to think about your financial wellness in addition to your overall health. Do you feel like you are in a good place financially? If you are not happy with your current financial situation, how could you change things this year to get on the right path? If you were tracking your expenses last year, it may be a good time to review and reflect on how the financial year went for you. Did you have any goals set for the last year and did you reach your goal(s)? Think about any significant life changes you had in the past year. Life changes may indicate a need for financial changes as well.

Review life changes

Take some time to review any life changes that may affect your finances. Did you welcome any new family members this year? If you do not have a will in place, maybe this is something you should consider. If you are a first-time parent, you may be thinking about creating a will that also establishes guardianship in your absence. Have you lost any loved ones over the past year? You may need to review or update your will based on any recent life changes. It may also be an excellent time to review and update your beneficiaries for your assets, such as retirement plans, bank accounts, and investment accounts. Maybe you started a new job or career over the last year. You may also want to review your job benefits to make sure you are using your benefits to your advantage. If you are thinking about saving for retirement, there are new contribution limits for 2024 and it may be a good time to review how much you are contributing for the year, especially if you set this as an automatic deduction.

Credit review

Different stages of life may call for changes in your financial goals and priorities. Taking the time to review your finances and planning for any changes will help you be prepared. Is there a large purchase you are considering during the next year? This may be a good time to focus on improving your credit score to help with a lower interest rate. Reviewing your credit report to make sure everything is correct may be a good starting point. Credit reports are now available once a week for free. With the start of a new year, you may want to take a fresh look at your credit report and make sure everything is accurate.

Reflect on your spending plan

Did you have a spending plan that you followed last year? If you follow a spending plan, it is important to review and reflect on your plan to see if you need to make changes. Did you spend more or less than you expected in your budget categories? Maybe you can find ways to cut unnecessary expenses from last year? The new calendar year may be the right time to set some new financial goals and put a plan in place to keep yourself on track. Many people think about their physical health when setting goals for the new year, but your financial wellness is important too. Financial stress can negatively affect your physical health, so it may be time to consider your overall wellness for the year. Make a point to focus on your finances this year!

Meet the Author


Jamie Mahlandt is a Financial Educator for Bond, Clinton, Jefferson, Marion, and Washington counties in Southern Illinois. She provides financial education to the local community with an emphasis on financial literacy and financial well-being.

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