January is the best time to start to get organized with your finances. Everyone I know is making new year's resolutions, goals around fitness, finances, their business, etc. So you might as well just use that mindset and momentum and get aligned on your finances.
If I were you, this is exactly how I would use my January:
- If you have not yet, connect your accounts to some app like everydollar, YNAB, monarch, etc. and see what your spending looked like for the last 3, 6, and 12 months. Get an understanding of what your monthly spending was and if that is a sustainable amount. It is crucial to ensure you are spending within reason.
- Look at your emergency fund and compare that to your average monthly spend. Do you have 3-6 months of expenses built up? Is it in a high yield savings account? If not, make the changes needed/save into it monthly.
- Look at all of your debt and come up with a plan. I highly recommend listing them from highest interest and lowest balance and then start attacking one debt at a time. Once one is paid off, roll that payment to the next one, and continue doing this till all your bad debt is paid off.
- Take a look at what your income will be for 2024, many get bonuses and salary increases to start the year. Get a grasp of how much more you will take home and what you will do with those dollars. Then automate this so you do not have to think about it.
- Take a look at your 401(k). Are you taking advantage of the full match? Do you have room to increase how much you are doing? Does it not make sense to switch to Roth or Traditional? If you are not maxing it out, it might be good to auto set it to increase each year.
- Look at your investments and if they are still invested how you want them to be. You could have too much US, too little international, too much in bonds, etc. and might need to rebalance them to start the year. Also, look at how you did last year. If you did poorly, it might be time to stop picking individual stocks. Or it might be time to hire some help.
It does not matter what happened the last couple of years. There is no sense in beating yourself up, just focus on that changes that you can make now. Way too many people just ignore their finances and hope they get better, but that is not how it works. Be intentional. Spend some time on it. Your finances are a huge part of your life. The more organized you are and the better plan you have, the less anxiety you will have around your finances and the better of a place you will be in 5 years down the road.
You got this.