Not Too Late For New Year's Financial Resolutions



While you may have thought to make resolutions to exercise more, travel or learn a new language, you may have ignored one of the most important pieces. If you want to make an even bigger impact on your future, you also may want to make -- and keep -- some financial resolutions.

As with all resolutions, the financial ones are easier to keep if they don't force you to drastically change your lifestyle. So, with that in mind, here are a few attainable financial resolutions to consider for 2007:

  • Increase your retirement plan contributions. If your salary goes up this year, increase the percentage of your earnings that you defer into your 401(k) plan -- or your 403 (b) if you work for a nonprofit agency, or your 457(b) if you work for a state, county, city or other governmental agency.

With tax-deferred growth, pretax contributions and a variety of investment choices, these plans are great retirement savings vehicles. Plus, since the money is taken out before it even reaches your check, you won't really "miss" your increased payments. And in 2007, the contribution limit for these plans has increased to $15,500. (If you're 50 or older, you can contribute an additional $5,000.)

  • "Max out" on your IRA. In 2007, you can put up to $4,000 into a traditional or Roth IRA, or $5,000 if you are 50 or older. If you cannot come up with the maximum amount at once, try dividing your IRA contribution into 12 equal monthly payments that are automatically withdrawn from a checking or savings account.

• Build adequate cash reserves. Try to build a sufficient cash cushion -- about six to 12 months' worth of living expenses -- to handle any unexpected financial needs, such as a major car repair or an expensive new appliance. By building an emergency fund, you won't need to tap into your investments. And by giving your investments the potential to grow as long as possible, you'll accelerate your chances for progress toward your long-term financial goals.

  • Review your investment portfolio. It's a good idea to review your investment portfolio at least once a year. Over the course of 12 months, your life can change in many ways -- a new spouse, new house, new child or a new job. And if your life changes significantly, your investment goals may also change. But even if your circumstances haven't changed much in a year, you should review your holdings to make sure your investment mix reflects your individual risk tolerance, time horizon and long-term objectives. A financial professional can help you review your investments to make sure you are still on track.
  • Don't take a "time out" from investing. In every year, you can find any number of events -- war, political turmoil, natural disasters, market volatility -- that might motivate you to "take a break" from investing.

But the most successful investors stay invested, no matter how gloomy the news may be.

So, in 2007, look beyond the headlines. Instead, focus on quality investments and you long-term investment strategies.

If you can achieve these New Year's resolutions, you'll go a long way toward potentially improving your financial situation in 2007 and beyond.

-- Scott Flake is a licensed investment representative with the firm of Edward Jones. For more information, call (928) 468-1470.

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