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9 Tips for Financial Happiness in the New Year  

As the end of the year approaches, your wallet might be feeling lighter than ever. Major seasonal expenses like holiday travel and shopping create added burdens that you may not have factored into your annual spending plan.

If you are worried about your financial outlook for the year ahead, know you are not alone. Two-thirds of Americans say they are anxious over the state of their finances, according to a survey by the American Psychiatric Association.

And while December can be a stressful month for budgets, it’s also the ideal time to reset your goals and create a new plan for the year ahead.

We asked nine personal finance experts how to achieve healthier personal finance goals in 2019. So before you dive into budget spreadsheets and planning, check out these tips to see if you’re missing any ideas, and how you can be successful with financial goals in the new year.

1.  Start today.  
From David Chang at The Art of Thinking Smart (@artthinksmart)

The actions you take today matter. Your daily habits are the biggest contributing factor when it comes to success and wealth. No matter how great your financial plans and investments, it can be easily undone by bad habits. Developing good habits is the best investment you can make. The key is to get started today and be consistent no matter what life throws at you. Financial success is about progress, not perfection. The best time to have gotten started may have been in the past, but the next best time is today.

2.  Set measurable goals. 
From Shane Ede at Beating Broke (@beatingbroke)

Any new year’s resolution that you make, and especially the financial ones, need to be achievable and measurable. Anyone can resolve to save up money towards a vacation. It leaves a little room for cheating. I can save $1 in my savings account and have saved towards a vacation. Instead, resolve to save $50 a month towards a vacation. It's measurable in that you know exactly how much it should be. And, depending on your budget, it should be something you can achieve each month and not fail. That's not a license to cheat and make them super easy either. Challenge yourself so that you can see growth.

3.  Follow a financial plan. 
From Jonathan Deyoe at Happiness Dividend Blog (@DeYoeWealth)

If you don't have a written financial plan inclusive of a lifetime of projected cash-flows based on personally embraced trade-offs, get one. If you do have a plan, stick with the plan.

4.  Look and plan beyond the short-term. 
From Bill Lowe, President at Sammons Institutional Group (LinkedIn)

The new year is the perfect time to get your financial goals and priorities down on paper. A lot of people set short-term goals, like saving for a vacation or a wedding. But when thinking about 2019 financial plans, don’t overlook what kind of small changes you can make this year to impact your long-term goals such as retirement income. One small change that can have a big impact down the road is bumping up your contributions to your current savings and investments. An extra $50 or $100 a month can have big rewards in the long-term. Make a plan, write it down, and hold yourself accountable to it. Your future self will thank you. 

5.  Automate your priority payments – including savings.
From Laura Adams at Money Girl (@LauraAdams)

If you don't like budgeting, use a spending plan instead to fund your key financial goals. Automate your priorities—such as saving for retirement, building a cash reserve, and having the right insurance—so they're paid first. Then wisely manage what's left over so you live within your means and always have a financial safety net to fall back on.

6.  Talk about your finances. 
From Hank Coleman at Money Questions and Answers (@hankcoleman)

One of the best things that you can do to help you keep your financial resolutions is to tell people about them, whatever resolution you choose. Don't keep them a secret. Find an accountability partner. Let your spouse, friend, or family member know your resolution to help you actually keep it this year.

7.  Small increases matter when it comes to your retirement plan. 
From Sophia Bera at Gen Y Planning (@sophiabera)

Now is a great time to bump up your 401(k) contributions by 1%. Then set a reminder in your phone to do this again in 6 months. Your future self will thank you and you'll barely notice your cash flow change.

8. Ensure you have the right tax plan that aligns with your retirement goals.
From Rob TeKolste, President at Sammons Independent Annuity Group (LinkedIn)

When was the last time you reviewed your retirement portfolio? The new year always has people thinking about taxes, so it makes sense to review your retirement portfolio to make sure you have a diverse array of products when it comes to taxes treatments—specifically the tax-deferred kind. Examples of taxed-deferred vehicles include employer-sponsored retirement plans (such as a 401(k), 403(b) or 457), IRAs, and annuities. Now, your retirement plan strategy shouldn’t be based on taxes alone, but they should be among the criteria for your planning, including your goals, timeline, etc. Factoring taxes into your overall retirement framework may help you build wealth faster. 

9. Had any big life events recently? Double check your life insurance policy.
From Jerry Blair, Chief Distribution Officer at Midland National Life Insurance Company (LinkedIn)

One common new year’s resolution is to get more organized—whether that’s cleaning up your home or your finances. But an often overlooked piece of that is making sure your life insurance is in order. Do you have the right amount of coverage? Has your marital status changed? Have you purchased a home or had children? Has your health improved or do you have plans to lose weight and get more fit? Have rates changed to allow you to get more coverage for the same premium payment? If so, you should talk to your financial professional about conducting a policy review to make sure it’s still right for your life in 2019.

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