It feels VERY good to turn the page on 2017, doesn’t it?

There were so many hard things that we faced as a nation that the opportunity to start fresh feels particularly bright this week.

Obviously, and as I’ve already written about in some detail, we have a brand new tax regime under which we are NOW operating. The year-end tasks are no longer available to us (aside from some IRA moves you can still make), so with your permission, my team and I are taking a breath from excavating those details and are focusing like a laser beam on getting your 2017 taxes prepared and filed with maximum savings, integrity, and care.

We are in your corner.

I’ll be in touch soon with some things that YOU can do to prepare, even as WE prepare; but in the meantime, let’s talk about 2018 and your goals, shall we?

4 Goals To Jumpstart Your Financial Freedom In West Michigan In 2018
“Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” -George Santayana

There is a big problem with many peoples’ financial resolutions: They don’t usually last even until the end of January.

But the ones I’m about to recommend to you here can, because they’re incremental AND anyone in West Michigan can do them.

Making a permanent change in our behavior requires both time and a steely resolve. But if we attack these things on a step-by step basis, I’ve found that we can develop financial character one action at a time.

So in that vein, here are some things you can do, in a sequential order, that will make a huge difference in your financial year. If you’ve already got one down, check it off, and move to the next on the list.

Financial Freedom Goal #1
EVERYONE START HERE: Resolve to become (and stay) debt free.
Now, clearly I’m not Dave Ramsey, but there’s a reason why he’s become so popular: his approach works.

So, as a start, I’d say that you can have a fixed-rate, fixed-year traditional mortgage on your West Michigan house — but shoot for nothing else. No HELOC. No car payments. Certainly no credit card debt. Because you simply have to learn to live within your means — which, unfortunately, sometimes means going without. The millionaires among us in West Michigan really are frugal.

You can learn to enjoy the process of chipping away at your debt, and it’s truly the best and first place to start.

Financial Freedom Goal #2
Automate your savings (i.e., Pay Yourself First).
Does your company offer a 401(k)? Get the entire match. Usually this translates to saving 5% of your salary while the company contributes a 4% match, which is the fastest way to get an 80% return on your money. Most Americans forgo this match, believing they need to spend 100% of their salary. But you can learn to think like a millionaire and live well on 95% of what you make.

If you don’t have a 401(k) plan, act like you do, and sock away 5% automatically. Or talk to your employer about different company savings vehicles.

Financial Freedom Goal #3
Fully fund your 2018 Roth IRA.
This is $5,500 in 2018 and $6,500 if you are older than age 50. And if you can’t manage the entire amount in January, it equates to a $460 monthly savings. Automating these savings plans are relatively painless — it’s the living without after the fact which seems difficult … until it isn’t.

Set your savings on autopilot, and pat yourself on the back.

Remember — these steps build off one another, so if you already have done the first 3, here’s your next step:

Financial Freedom Goal #4
Save another 5% in a taxable investment account.
Automating savings is great, automating investment is even greater. Key word here: automate. At this point, you’re hitting a mark of saving 15-20% of your income. That’s a fast-track to long-term prosperity.

In terms of WHAT you invest in, there are many great options. Index funds are a great place to start, but every person’s situation in West Michigan is slightly different .

And so, yes: These are the basic, first steps. I’ll have more sophisticated advice moving forward.

But get these going this month, and start your financial 2018 on the right track.

Happy New Year!

Ashley Forrest
(231) 747-7648

Forrest Tax & Accounting Services