Getting Your Finances On Track In 2008
In the next few days, I plan on reviewing my 2007 progress against my goals. However, I need to start thinking about 2008 before I have a chance to compile all the data. One of my biggest plans is to save a higher portion of my income. 2007 was a spend-heavy year for me, and it’s time to return to more basic levels of expense in most categories.
When I lay out my goals for 2008, that will be a primary focus.
Helpful for next year’s planning, Kiplinger has six suggestions for a prosperous 2008.
* Take advantage of higher IRA limits. The maximum contribution to all IRAs combined (in the role of an employee) is $5,000 (or $6,000 if you are over 50 years old). I say, “in the role of an employee” because self-employed people, as an employer, can contribute more to the SEP IRA. I may find that I no longer qualify for a Roth IRA, so while I’m considering a lump sum investment, I may wait before pulling the trigger.
* Stretch your raise even further. Use some of your raise to boost your 401(k) contribution. Now that the Roth 401(k) is available to me, I am splitting my contribution between the new account and the typical pre-tax account. Depending on other income sources, I may try to maximize my 401(k) contribution to the full $15,500.
* Focus on high-interest debt. Interest expense on debt is an unhealthy and in many times unnecessary payment. The only debt I have right now is a student loan. With savings account interest rates shrinking, it would be more beneficial for me to pay off the remainder of my student loan in 2008.
* Start gathering your tax records now. Ever year, my tax calculation increases in complexity. I think it’s time to hire a professional to make sure I’m finding every deduction and not making any mistakes. Many banks provide tax records electronically now, but it’s still important to develop a filing system to ensure everything is readily available.
* Put your bills and savings on autopilot. My telephone bill and cable bill are deducted automatically from a rewards credit card account. I am required to pay my rent by check, so that cannot be automated. My credit card payments change each month, and I cannot schedule in advance without knowing the exact amount. Savings, on the other hand, are easier.
* Protect your assets. I have not been a good protector. I’ve accumulated a fair amount of non-financial assets in the last few years, and particularly in 2007. I do not have a strong renter’s insurance policy to cover everything. This will be one goal of highest importance for the new year.