Stop some (often poor practices) and start some new ones to get the new year off to a positive start. Even if you might not be able to influence major issues affecting the economy and stock market, making small adjustments to your regular routine might strengthen your financial stability. Think about the six practices listed below and why you should alter them in 2023.
Constantly checking your portfolio’s value. It makes sense to be curious about the performance of your investments during volatile market periods. However, the more frequently you check, the wider the door is opened to negative emotions. Exuberance can encourage reckless risk-taking and overconfidence, while fear of loss can cause you to sell your investments and lose out on potential future gains. In either case, you reduce the potential long-term growth of your portfolio. Stop this behavior. When investing in stocks, keep in mind that short-term ups and downs are a given, but over time, the stock market has recovered from falls and started to rise again. The S&P 500 saw intra-year decreases in each of the previous 42 years up through 2021, with drops of 10% or more occurring in 23 years. These declines had an average negative 14 percent. The index did, however, finish in the black for 35 years, with an average return of almost 14%.
Minimizing the danger of cybercrime. You could believe that you will never be a victim of cybercrime, but the older you become, the more likely it is that you will. More than all other age groups combined, cybercriminals stole approximately $3 billion from persons 50 and older in 2021! The most popular strategy is to persuade victims to give personal information over the phone or via email, or to click on seemingly benign links that give hackers access to data on a target's computer. Scammers are becoming more skilled over time. They frequently impersonate representatives of well-known companies and divulge personal information about you that makes them seem trustworthy, including your birthday or place of residence (often easily found in an online search). Break this habit by learning and comprehending how these crimes happen. You should always exercise caution whenever you are asked for your account number, personal information, or to click on a link. DO NOT click on anything if you did not request it. Even if the source is a relative or a close friend, wherever possible, get confirmation from them. For each of your crucial accounts, use a unique complex password that you change every quarter. In this manner, hackers won't be able to access your other accounts if a password for one account is compromised as a result of a security breach.
Stop paying the minimal amount due on your credit card (s). Keeping a sizable debt on your credit card is a quick way to burn through money. One key justification is: In October, the average yearly interest rate on credit card debt was 18.9%. Let's say an issuer makes it simple to carry a balance by requiring only a $25 minimum payment or 1% of the balance, whichever is greater. It would take more than nine years and almost $2000 to pay off the total if you charge $1000 in a month and merely make the minimum payment. In the second quarter of 2022 compared to the prior year, credit card debt increased by 13%. The annual increase is the biggest it has been in at least 20 years. Take strategic action to pay off your high-interest debt to break this behavior. Switch your balance to a card with no interest. For instance, in the fall of last year, the Citi Diamond Preferred Mastercard and the Wells Fargo Reflect Visa both offered 0% APR for 18 and 21 months, respectively. You can call your credit card issuer and request a reduced interest rate if you don't meet the requirements for 0% interest. Some card issuers will cooperate with you. Alternatively, nonprofit debt counseling organizations that belong to the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (nfcc.org) or the Financial Counseling Association of America (fcaa.org) can assist you in creating a debt management strategy.
Quit putting off filing your taxes. Rushing through the preparation of your tax return to meet the April 15th deadline might result in mistakes, even invite IRS attention, and delay a refund by weeks or even months.
Millions of unprocessed tax returns have piled up at the IRS, which is currently sorting through them. Tax law changes during the 2021 filing season contributed to this backlog. Tax returns that are electronically filed on time and without errors are frequently processed more rapidly than paper ones. However, returns that contain math errors are frequently pushed aside for review (upsurge in 2021). Start on February 1st to break this behavior. The necessary tax paperwork, such as a Form W-2 from your employment or a Form 1098 from your mortgage lender, ought to have arrived by that point. If you've never filed electronically before, you'll have time to learn how to do it within this period to prevent mistakes. Any refund should be in your bank account within a few weeks if you file electronically and choose direct deposit.
Automating the payment of expenditures. When was the last time you looked around for less expensive house or auto insurance? or terminated memberships and subscriptions you don't use? Or did you simply go through your monthly bills to see things you can cut back on? You can be squandering hundreds or even thousands of dollars annually. Calling your insurers for a thorough analysis of your policies every year or two will help you break this habit. You can save money on some auto insurance policies by designating your vehicle for non-commuter use, setting up automatic payments, going paperless, or, if you're a AAA member, removing the roadside assistance provision from your policy.
Put an E next to all of your necessary expenses and a D next to all of your optional expenses on your quarterly bank and credit card bills. Examine the items designated with a "D" and consider whether you can cut any of them out or reduce the number.
Live Your Dreams
Lastly, stop postponing joy and put together a plan to execute your dreams. It's difficult for many people to stop scrimping and saving after years of devoted labor and saving. What are you waiting for, you could ask yourself? Review your bucket list and select a few practical objectives. An island vacation? Taking a ship to the Bahamas? Aim to incorporate your aspirations into your short-term financial plan as long as your income requirements are met and you have an emergency reserve. It's your chance to live the life you want right now.