What are your New Year’s resolutions? Resolutions have been around as long as New Year’s itself. The first known mention of the phrase, “New Year’s resolution” was in a Boston newspaper in 1813. However, even 4,000 years ago, ancient Babylonians were making their own form of New Year’s resolutions by vowing to the gods to pay their debts in the upcoming year.1
There have been other unusual resolutions throughout history. In 1669, author Jonathan Swift made a resolution to “not be fond of children.” Mathematician Godrey Hardy made a resolution in the 1930s to be the first man to climb Mt. Everest and to become the combined president of the USSR, Germany, and Great Britain. That would have been quite the year!2
Of course, not all resolutions are optimistic. In 1984, The Times asked author Samuel Beckett about his resolutions for the upcoming year. He answered that he had no resolutions because he had no hopes.2
Some of the more common resolutions are things like losing weight or dropping a bad habit. If you stick with your resolution, it can have a profound impact on your future. That’s especially true with financial resolutions. Below are a few financial resolutions that could significantly improve your retirement strategy:
Increase your retirement contributions.
Saving more money for retirement is always a good idea. A qualified retirement account like your 401(k) or IRA could be an effective vehicle for those savings. Qualified accounts are tax-deferred. That means you don’t pay taxes on growth as long as the money stays in the plan. That tax-deferral could help your assets compound at a faster rate than they would in a comparable taxable vehicle.
In 2020, you can contribute up to $19,500 to a 401(k) plan, plus an additional $6,500 if you are 50 or older. You can also contribute up to $6,000 to an IRA, plus an additional $1,000 if you are 50 or older.3
Of course, you may not be able to afford to contribute $19,500 to your 401(k). Instead, make gradual increases over time. In 2020, try raising your contribution by 1%. That likely won’t put a dent in your budget, but it could have a big impact over time. You could even set your contributions to automatically increase by 1% at regular intervals, perhaps every January 1. Before you know it, you’ll be contributing the maximum amount.
Reduce your risk exposure.
Do you get more anxious than you used to when the market experiences volatility? Are you more concerned with risk and loss than you were in your younger days? That’s natural. Many people become more risk-averse as they approach retirement.
When’s the last time you actually reviewed your investments to make sure they align with your current risk tolerance? Many people set their 401(k) or IRA allocation and forget it. The result is that it never changes over time and becomes out of alignment with their goals and needs.
Take some time in 2020 to review your approach. It may be time for you to move to a more conservative allocation with less risk exposure. Or you may benefit from retirement vehicles like fixed or fixed indexed annuities that don’t have downside market risk exposure.
Work with a professional.
Are you a do-it-yourselfer when it comes to saving for retirement? There is no shortage of apps, tools, and technology to help you manage your retirement income without the help of a professional.
However, there are still important benefits to working with a professional. An experienced financial and/or retirement professional can help you prioritize your goals and identify gaps in your plan. They can recommend strategies and implement a plan to help you achieve your biggest financial and retirement income goals.
If you aren’t currently working with a financial professional, consider meeting with a few in 2020 and seeing if any of them align with your needs and goals. In fact, let’s start the conversation today. Contact us at Grand Canyon Planning Associates. We can help you analyze your needs and implement a plan. Let’s connect soon and start the conversation.