This first full week of the year is often cited as one of the most difficult and depressing weeks of the year. Far from shiny newness, experts say that with all of the let-down after the holidays, coming back to work, or leaving behind family, can bring a heightened sense of loss.

This, combined with the fact that we’re staring at 2-4 months still left of winter (depending on what part of the country you call home, of course — we have clients and friends reading this from across the country) …

Well, it can be a tough week.

So I’d like to lighten your 2015 load by giving you some simple, actionable guidance on FINANCIAL resolutions that are easy (and profitable) for you to keep.

You see, I hope you don’t mind that I see it as my role in your life to not only provide authoritative and actionable tax advice for your specific situation, but also to play a role as a “coach” for your finances, and even your mindset.

This is why our clients and their friends seek us out for *more* than simple tax preparation, but a whole host of other services as well — from planning, to business services, to simple encouragement. I get to be someone in your life who says: “You can do this. You’re not alone.”

It’s my great hope that our relationship will continue to grow into 2015, and beyond. And not just for “business purposes”. We love our clients — you’re like family to us (the *good* kind of family, that is)!

So, with my coach hat firmly in place, here are some thoughts for effectively creating and pursuing your personal financial goals, as we move into 2015 …

Valerie McLaughlin’s
“Real World” Personal Strategy Note

Financial Resolutions To Keep in 2015
“Be at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbors, and let every new year find you a better man.” -Benjamin Franklin

Here’s the thing about most financial resolutions: They don’t usually last even until the end of January. That’s because making a permanent change in our behavior requires both time and a steely resolve. But I’ve found that we can develop financial character one action at a time.

So in that vein, here are some financial practices to take you from pauper to prince or princess if you add one each year. If you’ve already got one down, move to the next on the list.

By the way — no matter where you are on this list, we are here to help you. Whether it’s through financial advice, tax preparation or planning … well, we have all kinds of ways to help you stay on the path on which you want to be. You simply have to ask.

But here we go…

#1 MOST CRITICAL: Resolve to become (and stay) debt free. Now, I’m not Dave Ramsey, but there’s a reason why he’s become so popular: his approach works. I’d say that you can have a fixed-rate fixed-year traditional mortgage on your house — but nothing else, please. No equity line of credit on your house. No car payments. Certainly no credit card debt. Because you simply have to learn to live within your income — which, unfortunately, sometimes means going without. The millionaires among us really are frugal. So, learn to enjoy that process, and it’s a fantastic start.

#2: Automate your savings (AKA Pay Yourself First). You can start by getting the entire match if your company offers a 401(k) plan. Often this translates to saving something like 5% of your salary while the company contributes something like a 4% match — which is the fastest way to get an 80% return on your money. Most Americans forgo this match, believing they need to spend 100% of their salary. But you can learn to think like a millionaire and live well on 95% of what you make. If you don’t have a 401(k) plan, act like you do, and sock away 5% automatically.

Remember — these steps build off one another, so if you already have done the first 2, here’s your next step:

#3: Save another 5% in a taxable investment account. Automating savings is great, automating investment is even greater. Key word here: automate. At this point, you’re hitting a mark of saving 10-15% of your income. That’s a fast-track to long-term prosperity.

But I’m not quite done, grasshopper. However, I’m going to leave you with these for now, and come back to this again in the weeks ahead.

Best to you and yours…. May your 2015 be full of joy.

Warmly,

Valerie McLaughlin
(410) 224-2600