For many people, the new year brings a fresh start and blank slate for many things, including their physical health. Whether it’s losing weight, eating healthier, or exercising, a strong January can set the tone for a healthy year. The beginning of the year is also a great time to make a clean financial start. I see this firsthand through my job as a financial advisor. From climbing out of debt to curtailing excess spending, everyone aims for a positive financial start to the year.
The fact that health and finances are popular New Year’s resolution themes is no surprise. Both are common stressors, and improvements in each area can truly have a positive impact on one’s life.
While they may seem different, there are a few similarities between the strategies for beginning the new year on the right financial foot and starting it on a physically healthy note. Take these four key tips to heart and you’re sure to set yourself up for success in 2018.
1. Set goals
Setting realistic health goals such as losing 25 pounds or reducing stress is a great way to kick off 2018. After all, you have to give yourself something to work toward over the next 12 months.
Finances are no different. Take time at the beginning of the year to analyze your portfolio for problem areas. While paying down debt is certainly a common January task, some people will prioritize establishing an emergency fund, saving for a child’s education, or diversifying their investment portfolio to protect against market volatility. Regardless of what you decide, having long-term goals with strategic checkpoints along the way can put you on the right path for 2018 and beyond.
2. Learn to adjust your lifestyle
Once your long-term financial and health objectives are set, you must learn to adjust and adapt your lifestyle to accommodate those goals. For example, those who are keen on exercising must learn to create extra time for the gym, which might mean waking up earlier than usual or moving around other obligations.
In terms of finances, reducing unnecessary spending is another popular January goal that requires a lifestyle adjustment. You must learn to change everything from the number of times you dine out each week to the amount of money you spend shopping, all while instituting additional cost-saving measures.
3. Stay committed
Commitment is one of the keys to making 2018 both physically and financially healthy. Unfortunately, you can’t just dig out of credit card debt or stock your retirement fund overnight. Just like a big lifestyle or health change takes time, it generally takes time and patience to conquer financial management.
While there will certainly be obstacles along the way and factors outside your control, keeping a positive attitude and forward-looking mindset makes a big difference. Additionally, don’t underestimate the knowledge and value you can gain by learning from your mistakes.
4. Don’t overlook check-ups
Many of us put off regular visits to the doctor, but taking a proactive approach and scheduling routine checkups is an important component of staying healthy. Your portfolio requires routine checkups and proactive maintenance as well.
If you haven’t done so recently, the New Year is a good time to review important documents, update insurance beneficiaries, and ensure your investment risk level is commensurate with your age and financial situation. A simple adjustment or issue can eventually spiral into a larger financial headache if you avoid checking on different aspects of your portfolio every so often.
By applying similar concepts this January, you can put yourself on track for a new year full of financial and physical wellness.
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Barbara Finder is a Senior Vice President and Financial Advisor with the Wealth Management Division of Morgan Stanley in Chicago. The information contained in this column is not a solicitation to purchase or sell investments. Any information presented is general in nature and not intended to provide individually tailored investment advice. The strategies and/or investments referenced may not be suitable for all investors as the appropriateness of a particular investment or strategy will depend on an investor’s individual circumstances and objectives. Investing involves risks and there is always the potential of losing money when you invest. The views expressed herein are those of the author and may not necessarily reflect the views of Morgan Stanley Wealth Management, or its affiliates. Morgan Stanley Smith Barney, LLC, member SIPC.