Use the beginning of this year to find the motivation you need to set financial goals
By Jennifer Leathem, Special to Financial Post
The start of a new year, for many, signals a time for a fresh start and with that you may find yourself making resolutions and goals. Eating healthier, exercising and getting more sleep are among the most popular, but it is also a good time to consider your financial resolutions and prepare for the year ahead.
With that in mind, here are some financial resolutions you should consider keeping in 2022.
Debt and liabilities: As bills start to arrive from the holidays, plan for a clean slate and pay off high-interest credit cards first. At the same time, review other longer-term debts, including your current interest rates and whether they are competitive.
Meet with your bank to see if there is an opportunity to restructure debts or mortgages so more of your monthly payments can be attributed to principal. Small changes can make a big difference in the long run.
Budget and savings: Make a realistic budget for the year and set achievable savings and investment goals. Your budget and savings are directly related to your ability to earn income and your expenses. The more you earn, the more you can save, and the quicker you can reach your goals. Look for ways to cut costs and review the rates you are paying. For example, ensure your home insurance and telecom rates are competitive.
Prepare your investment portfolio for market volatility: Diversification is key in the current market environment, and that means having exposure to several different asset classes, including both public and private assets. Over the long term, having a diversified portfolio of uncorrelated investments is expected to reduce portfolio volatility.
It is also important to review the cash flow (dividends, interest and rents) your portfolio is generating. Cash flow plus capital appreciation equals your total return. If you’re in retirement, portfolio cash flow can be used to support your income needs so you won’t need to sell investments when they are down. If you are building your portfolio, cash flow can provide an opportunity to buy assets at reduced prices during a market downturn.
Meet with your financial adviser: Depending on the complexity of your financial situation, you may strive to meet with your financial adviser every six months. If you don’t meet your financial adviser regularly, use the new year as a reason to do so and make sure your financial affairs are in order for the year ahead. Your financial adviser can help develop a plan and measure your progress towards your goals.
Organize your estate planning affairs: If you have been procrastinating about putting a will in place or making updates to your current will, now is the time. A will is the foundation of your estate plan, but it is also important you have a power of attorney and representation agreement in place.
Review how assets are owned (for example, joint ownership or tenants in common) and your current beneficiary designations for registered accounts and insurance policies.
Decide how you want to help: This may include helping charities or family members financially. Many individuals choose to give to charities around the holidays, but support is needed year-round.
The beginning of the year can signal a time for you to determine your passion for helping others and how you can do so. You may also want to help family members with schooling or a home purchase, so ensure those fit with your budget and long-term financial goals.
The above are all financial matters we should consider year-round, but the beginning of a new year is often the motivation you need to take the first steps to cross some important items off your list.
Jennifer Leathem, CFP, CIM, is a financial adviser at Nicola Wealth. This article should not be considered as investment advice or a recommendation of any particular security, strategy or investment product. All investments contain risk and may gain or lose value. Nicola Wealth is registered as a Portfolio Manager, Exempt Market Dealer and Investment Fund Manager with the required provincial securities commissions.