Finances and the Year Ahead

The main topic of conversation for the past 18 months or so has been all about the economy and how we’ll be able to cope with it today and into our retirement years. Most of us have had a certain amount of fear invade our once serene financial lives and today just about anything will set off our emotional release when it comes to the sensitive topic of – “what happens next?” – as it pertains to our personal financial situation. It has been a very tough year and although government figures are pointing to a recovery on the horizon, I don’t really know many who will attest to the fact that things are really beginning to improve on their economic front….at least not yet.

But there are a few things that you can do to help the situation while the years ahead try to mend the financial damage that we’ve experienced recently. The first thing, and probably the most important, is not to ignore your current situation. Listen, I know that many of you have not been checking out your banking or investment statements lately because you just don’t want to see that bottom line figure. The fact remains, unless you know what that figure is, you won’t know where you’ll need to start the repair or how aggressive you’ll have to be to fix the problem. So, stop hiding and take a look. You might not like what you see but at least you’ll know where you stand and that will be the beginning of “fixing what has been broken.”

If you haven’t done so already, find an accountant. There have been so many changes to the tax laws in the past year and even the professionals are overly challenged when trying to keep up with the latest tax modifications. Many of you have started your own businesses this past year and if you try to mix that with your personal taxes, well, you could be in for an ordeal that might lead to errors in your final tax figures. So, let someone who knows how to handle the situation do it for you. Sure, it’s going to cost you a few dollars but in the end you’ll be more at ease and content that you did it the right way and, believe me, that will be well worth a few extra dollars.

In the computer age, you can automate many of your financial responsibilities that in the past you would normally worry about. Things like automatic bill pay through your bank’s website or payroll deductions to your 401(k) plan or savings accounts can do much to take some of the pressure off. You can also have your utility companies or a personal credit card simply debit your account on a monthly basis and you won’t ever have to worry about late fees. But even better than that, since you won’t have to actually sit down and pay the bills, you’ll have a lot of extra time to do the things you really want to do.

As we approach 2010, use some of your extra time to sit down and write your goals for the New Year. What did you want to accomplish this year that you didn’t? What would you like to achieve next year? Maybe it’s that vacation you’ve always wanted to take to Paris or finally finishing your education; whatever your goals are, just make sure you write them down and post them someplace. Ask yourself where you see yourself in five years. Then, prioritize those goals to figure out a way to make them happen. Once you’ve set your personal goals, make sure you stay focused and remain on course to complete them successfully. Constantly review and update your list of goals and modify them to reflect any life changes, experiences or priorities. If you want to make something happen you must set and manage your goals. Make that a priority this year.

If you are dedicated to creating a booming year ahead, you must make sure that you look at everything with a new point of view. If you’ve been doing things in a certain manner that hasn’t really been working out for you, the only way to change the outcome is by changing how you deal with the problem. Make something happen in the coming year by producing a positive environment that will allow you to realize the success you are striving to achieve.