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Your Money, Your Independence Resolutions Gone Bad: Rein In Your New Year

Glenn Brown

Making New Year’s resolutions to improve your financial wellness in 2022? 
Let’s help you start by recognizing questionable resolutions, including three destined for failure plus what should be considered for successful planning outcomes. 
Bad Resolution: Need to start buying some “X” to make more money.
Please, tell me more. If due to FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) or based on this year’s performance, give pause. 
Yes, momentum, innovation, social & macro themes, niche’ and/or value could be part of your investing strategy, but let’s back up - do you have a strategy? 
Is a core of low-cost, diversified index funds present to allow for explore ideas like X? How does X correlate with what is already owned? Impact on overall risk? Without mentioning performance, can you articulate why you own X and when wouldn’t own X? 
Better Resolution: Need to save ___% and take ____ risk with investments to reach ____  goal. 
To truly build assets, you need to save a specific percentage each year, take opportunistic or measured risks AND invest towards your established goal, not an investment benchmark or The Joneses.
Bad Resolution: Pay down debt. 
Sounds important, but is it? It depends. Tax deductions, interest rates, duration, fixed or variable, inflation, deflation, and depreciation ensure all debt is not equal. 
Better Resolution: Execute a debt reduction plan. 
Access all debt, then prioritze on high-interest debt, variable rates, and unsecured. If down to a 3% of lower mortgage, 2% auto loans, and a MassSave at 0%, then maintain required payments, reap benefits of low, fixed rates in an inflationary environment and allocate towards investments outpacing inflation. 
An exception, if not at ~40% home equity ownership, can make a case to get there and open a  HELOC. Beyond flexibility to access equity built and lower total interest paid, can eliminate the opportunity costs of a large cash position for the “what ifs” in life.
Bad Resolution: Do more for my retirement.
Buy a lottery ticket, as greater chance of success than this vague “lose weight” resolution tossed by January 10th. 
Better Resolution: How do I retire at 55 or semi-retire in 5 years. 
Now you’re analyzing cash flows, balance sheet, contribution rates, investment allocations, taxation, work benefits, college funding, planning for the unexpected and desired lifestyle with expenses in retirement. You’ll establish a set of base facts, allowing to then create scenarios, see projections, reverse engineer action steps, and track goals within timelines. 
Aggressive timelines creates urgency, leading to actions that bring you closer the ultimate retirement accomplishment - choice.  
How to ensure resolutions are not misguided, outdated, or simply unrealistic? 
Use common sense, socialize with your spouse, and/or leverage an accountability partner (i.e. Certified Financial Planner) to make your 2022 resolutions happen.  
The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.

Glenn Brown is a Holliston resident and owner of PlanDynamic, LLC, Glenn is a fee-only Certified Financial Planner™ helping motivated people take control of their planning and investing, so they can balance kids, aging parents and financial independence.