Roadmapping 2024 With A Financial Planner

By: Derek Hess

Entering a new year ignites motivation for a fresh start. It’s a time to set resolutions and focus on lifestyle changes. As financial planners, we understand that changing your money habits can be as challenging as changing your eating or exercise habits.

If you want to change your financial wellness in the coming year but need help figuring out where to start, here’s a roadmap for tackling the most important financial building blocks broken down by quarter.

financial planner sitting down at a table with a client discussing annual goals and taxes

Financial Planner Pro Tip: Start With The Big 3 — Budget, Savings, & Taxes.

(January 1 – March 31)

Establish & Refresh Your Monthly Budget.

Every financial planner will say that creating and sticking to a monthly budget is essential to achieving your financial goals.

Here are a few tips that can help you set your monthly budget:

  • Account for any raises, promotions, or changes to your monthly income.
  • Use a budgeting app or tool to help you keep track of everything.
  • Identify expenses you want to plan for, such as upcoming vacations, home improvements, and paying down debt. Then, set aside money each month for these big-ticket items you know are coming.
  • Factor in any student loan payments that have recently restarted.
  • Be sure also to make room to “pay yourself first” and add to your retirement bucket.

Set Up Automated Transactions For Savings & Bills.

Once you’ve established your budget and identified your savings goals, set yourself up for success by redirecting your money with automatic transactions.

For example, you could:

  • Have $300/per month added to your 401(k)
  • Have $100/per month transferred to your vacation savings bucket
  • Set up automatic payments for your mortgage/rent, utilities, student loan payments, etc.

Getting your savings deposits and expenses on autopilot eliminates guesswork, establishing a time-saving system to help you manage everything with ease.

File Your Taxes & Understand Available Strategies.

As you work on filing your taxes for the previous year, this is a good time to dig into and better understand your income and tax situation. There may be strategies you aren’t taking advantage of that could improve your tax situation the next time you file. If you’re unsure what those strategies are, one of our experienced CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professionals can help.

Ensure Your Estate Plans & Designated Beneficiaries Are Up To Date.

(April 1 – June 30)

Often overlooked but should still be reviewed every so often are your estate plans and whether they are up to date and in good order.

  • If you don’t have any Wills, Powers of Attorney, Advanced Medical Directives, or Trusts, this is an excellent time of year to set up a meeting with an attorney to formalize your wishes.
  • Don’t forget to take a few minutes to review the beneficiaries on your investment accounts and life insurance policies.

Assess Your Progress & Consider Adjustments.

(July 1 – September 30)

July to September is a busier time for most of us with vacations and kids returning to school. So, your focus for this quarter is to catch up on to-dos, assess your progress and decide whether you want to make any tweaks to your roadmap for the rest of the year.

Conduct A Comprehensive Review of Your Benefits Packages & Goals.

(October 1 – December 31)

Review Company Benefits and Insurance Coverages.

Pull out your employee benefits packages and third-party policies to review your selections and ensure you have the most appropriate coverage for your goals.

  • Look at your health, dental, and vision plan options and consider Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) and Flexible Savings Accounts (FSAs) if available.
  • Assess if adding to any traditional (pre-tax) or Roth (after-tax) accounts (on top of your employer retirement plans) makes sense.
  • Review your life insurance coverage, including coverage available through work, private policies, or both.
  • Check if you are signed up for short-term and/or long-term disability benefits.

Reflect & Prepare Your Financial Goals For Next Year.

Building essential financial security takes time, but addressing a few items each year can make a significant difference. So whether you accomplished everything you set out to do or if there are a few outstanding items to work on, celebrate what you achieved.

In the final quarter, reflect and ask yourself: What did I accomplish? How can I build on my progress? What are some new goals for the year to come?

A Financial Planner Can Help You Stay Focused.

Realistically, achieving all the tasks on this roadmap is challenging to do alone. So, if you’re feeling overwhelmed or could use some accountability, let’s get to know each other! We’ll dig deep into your financial goals to create a customized strategy that moves you forward. Get in touch today to start your journey with one of our experienced CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professionals.