Goals, schmoals

“The best years of your life are the ones in which you decide your problems are your own. You don’t blame them on your mother, the ecology, or the President. You realize that you control your own destiny.”

– Albert Ellis


Well, now the holidays are truly behind us, and this is the week where reality sets in for everybody.

No more extended family (which might be a relief?), no more parties, no more presents. Just …daily life. And, in my opinion, this week is actually crucial to how the rest of your year goes. Why?

Because intentions and actions matter. No, I don’t subscribe to a mystical “universal” law of attraction–but I DO believe that how we act out what we intend sets a sub-conscious belief system in place which can have an impact for months at a time.

So … are you making resolutions? In some ways, this whole ritual of “resolution-making” can become very cliche, but look–we all need little “nudges” to help us actually make changes in our lives. I see it as my role in your life to not only provide authoritative and actionable advice for your financial situation, but also to play the role as “coach” for your particular situation.

This is why our clients and their friends seek us out for *more* than simple tax preparation, but a whole host of other services as well–from planning, to business services, to simple encouragement. I get to be someone in your life who says: “You can do this. You’re not alone.”

It’s my great hope that our relationship will continue to grow into 2011, and beyond. And not just for “business purposes”. We love our clients … you’re a family to us! I should say I mean that in the *positive* sense…we all might be a bit “familied-out” right about now! 🙂

So, with my coach hat firmly in place, here are some thoughts for effectively creating and pursuing your personal financial goals, as we move into 2011…

New Year, New Financial Goals

Not to make you feel guilty, but for every seven years you delay saving and investing for the future, you cut in half the income you would enjoy at the end of your life. So, let’s make 2011 the year we get on the right financial course, shall we?

Here are some suggestions to get started…

1) Set Realistic Goals First, ask the right questions and stay the course until you’ve found the answers. Goals that are shared are ten times more likely to be acted on. Don’t wait until you have everything set up to seek out accountability.

2) Make those goals concrete and then document them. Set your savings goals as a specific annual percentage of your adjusted gross income (AGI). It’s a great idea to save at least 10% of your AGI in tax-free retirement accounts and another 5% toward retirement in taxable investments. If you are behind on your savings, you may want to save even more in order to catch up.

Third, craft the best strategy to implement your goals, including prioritizing the appropriate retirement vehicles. Start by investing just enough to get the entire match from a company’s 401(k) plan (if you have one) and then fund your Roth IRA accounts next. After these two, make certain you have enough nonretirement savings.

Fourth–and this is a BIG deal– automate your plan. Automating putting money in an employer-defined contribution plan is easy. Automating a taxable savings plan is just as painless. Most banks or brokers offer an automatic money link between an investment account and a checking account. They should also offer a monthly automatic transfer between the two accounts.

Going into further detail would actually entail sitting down and creating a true, full financial plan–which is impossible over email!

But I will say one last thing: the most critical component of wealth management in the new year will be tax minimization. With the potential for tax rates to fluctuate even more than the stock market in 2011, it’s never been more important to monitor what “Uncle Sam” is seeking to take from your wallet!

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I hope all this helps. To your family’s financial and emotional peace…

Pam BritzGoals, schmoals