January Is National Financial Wellness Month
January is Financial Wellness Month, a time that serves as a reminder to plan and update your financial strategy.
It’s a great time to connect with a financial professional to discuss your financial situation and your goals and dreams for the future. It’s also a good time to determine whether your financial strategy needs to be adjusted or changed based on your lifestyle.
Defining Financial Wellness
The first order of business is to define what “financial wellness” means for you. This could drastically vary from person to person. It is informed by who you are, where you are coming from and what your experiences with money are. A person who has had serious financial struggles might have different expectations from someone who has enjoyed relative financial stability.1,2
How, then, do you define this? First, ask yourself what you need to feel secure, financially speaking. Here are questions to consider:
- How much should you have saved by a particular age?
- How much income should you be bringing in each month?
- Where are you with respect to your debt?
- Would things be simpler and less stressful if you carried less debt?
- How fluid and sufficient is your cash flow when it comes to expenses that are not urgent (taking your family out to dinner or on a small trip) versus larger financial goals (such as buying a new kitchen appliance)?
- Finally, and perhaps most importantly, will you be able to retire at your target age?
Financial Wellness Goals
Thinking about financial wellness is often a matter of setting goals for what you can accomplish now and what you can work on in the future as part of your larger financial strategy. For now, consider taking these actions:3
- Have a values-based conversation with the decision-makers in your household, meaning any tax-paying adult who contributes income and shares responsibility for the bills. Make sure that the non-essential items on which you are spending money align with your commitments to meet your financial needs. This is not a “stop getting lattes” conversation; it is a “are we spending money on the things that matter most to us?” conversation.
- Consider automating payments, especially towards regular items, such as student loans, credit cards and other installment payments.
- Create an emergency fund reflecting 3–6 months of household expenses. This will afford you a stable foundation going forward. If that seems too ambitious, build the fund a month at a time until you reach your goal.
- Make regular contributions to your retirement accounts. Take advantage of any matching contributions you might get from your employer.
- Set long-term financial goals. If you are thinking in terms of buying a house or retiring at an early age, for instance, consider this in your overall financial strategy.
- Is becoming totally debt-free an achievable goal? It can be, if you make it a priority.
These are, of course, not hard and fast rules. As mentioned above, every individual has their own specific definition of financial wellness. Some of these examples might feel like a stretch. Others, you might already be practicing. The good news is that with careful practice and judicious scrutiny, many people can gain a feeling of satisfaction and even pleasure from achieving and maintaining financial wellness.
Having your financial strategy in place not only can mean a great deal to you in the long term but also may provide you some comfort in the short term. Schedule a time to discuss this with a fiduciary financial professional today.
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This content is developed from sources believed to be providing accurate information, and provided by Kelly Financial Planning. It may not be used for the purpose of avoiding any federal tax penalties. Please consult legal or tax professionals for specific information regarding your individual situation. The opinions expressed and material provided are for general information, and should not be considered a solicitation for the purchase or sale of any security.