While it’s easy to look back on this past year as one with sidelined goals and dreams, it’s also a time of reflection to see the possibilities and opportunities we can carry into the coming year. The same approach applies to our finances. With an ‘abundance mindset’, we can look at 2021 as a fresh start with a blank canvas waiting to paint the picture.
Financial wellness is within your grasp, and with the right posture, you can achieve anything you set your sights on. Embrace these five winning strategies, and you’ll be on your way to creating a great plan that both your bank account and your soul will be grateful for.
Embrace a positive mindset
Before getting to the numbers, it is essential to be in a positive mindset. Create a mantra or daily affirmations for yourself. Repeating positive affirmations has been shown to get people through tough times and help them truly believe what they say. The subconscious mind does not know the difference between what has happened and what has not happened yet.
For example, when you say to yourself daily, “I am financially empowered,” over time, your subconscious mind will believe it, and you will continue to nurture a healthy relationship with your money.
Celebrate with a financial checkup
Having an annual financial checkup is like having your mini financial summit to start the year. Start with the foundations, which are your net worth and cash flow statements. Net worth is everything you own (assets), subtracting everything you owe (liabilities). Cash flow is all monies that come in every month (for example, your paycheck, child support, maintenance support) subtracted by all of the funds that flow out every month. If you own a business, your income is what you pay yourself every month.
Conduct a risk management review of the coverage for your life, home, and auto insurance policies. Do you have enough or too much? If you do not have minor children at home any longer, or if there have been changes to your marital status within the last several years and haven’t reviewed your life insurance policy in a long time, this is a great time to do that.
Is your emergency account sufficiently funded? Elegant emergency funds will ebb and flow over time. They do not remain static as there will always be an unexpected situation that happens, whether it be unexpected auto repairs or a boiler that suddenly stops working. Even if you do not own your home and rent instead, an emergency fund is equally essential in situations such as unexpected job loss. How much should be in your emergency fund depends on your specific situation. Typically, three-six months of expenses to keep the roof over your head, food on the table, and essentials such as utilities should be the foundation.
Also, review your credit score and request copies of your credit reports. Look for erroneous mistakes or negative items that are eligible to be dropped from the account.
How is your saving and investing? If you have a retirement account with your employer, are you maximizing your investment? If not, one smart strategy for saving and investing is by scheduling an automatic deduction from your bank account to a savings account or retirement vehicle of your choice. Even a small amount is not missed from your paycheck and will grow over time.
And if your bank charges high fees, pays low-interest rates or is located somewhere inconvenient, it may be time to find a better one. However, bear in mind that changing banks might be complicated: you’ll need to open the new account, redirect automatic payments and auto deposits and leave both accounts open for a while before you can finally part ways with your old bank.
Organize your financial life
If there were an emergency, do you know where to find all of your important documents easily? If not, now is a great time to get them organized. While many banks and companies have gone to mostly paperless documents, not all have. It is good to have certain documents in hard copies, such as insurance policies for life, home, and auto.
As a back-up, a digital copy is essential if you are not home during an emergency and need to access these documents quickly. It can be as simple as taking a picture of each page with your mobile phone and uploading them to a cloud-based, digital storage service with encryption, such as Dropbox.
Have a shred-fest and discard documents no longer needed, such as old insurance policies that are no longer in force or rental agreements to places you no longer live.
Create gorgeous dreams and goals
If we learned anything this year, what’s most important is the experiences we create with those who matter most and giving to those in need when we can. There are no dreams that are too small and no goals that are too ambitious. What is most exciting is that you can decide what these are on your terms and no one else’s. Creating gorgeous dreams and goals starts by understanding four distinct ways in which you can use your money. You can own it, grow it, give it, and live it. Owing is all of your debt, such as an auto loan or mortgage. Growing it is how you safe and invest. Giving it are charitable contributions, and Live it is your spending that is not debt, such as your utilities, clothes, or groceries.
Set goals and intentions, be willing to do the actionable work, and then let it go. We attract where we place our focus. Determine your goals and intentions, and then let them go. You’ll be surprised at what happens when you allow yourself to have that faith in what you can do.
Make a promise to yourself to keep learning
Financial topics, especially when it comes to investing, can be confusing to understand, especially if you’re unsure where to find the right resources for you. A great place to start is your local library. It is essential to keep learning, even little by little, to arm yourself with the knowledge and tools you need for your financial empowerment. This is important for all midlife women, especially for the married, as 80% of women will outlive their male spouses. US News suggests myriad good personal finance books on everything from taxes to budgeting and investing. Make 2021 the year you crack one of those books open and start exploring strategies and concepts to improve your financial life.