Six ways to start fresh financially in 2023
Morgan Stanley Wealth Management12/19/22
Summary: The start of a new year can be a good time to revisit your budget, debt, and investments—and check them against your financial goals. These six steps can help get you started.
The new year offers an opportunity to reflect on the past and set goals for the future. Revisiting both your personal and financial goals can help set you up for success in 2023 and beyond.
Here are six ways to kick off the year with fresh perspective:
1. Revisit your household budget
Start the year by revisiting your budget. Assess your average monthly income, as well as your fixed and variable expenses, and determine your financial priorities for 2023. For example, maybe you’re looking forward to putting extra income toward a bucket-list vacation over the summer. Or perhaps you’re planning to save even more for retirement. Understanding your top priorities can help you develop the ideal budget for you, especially now as inflation forces many households to allocate more for essentials like grocery or gas.
If you’re having trouble getting started, this worksheet can help.
2. Check your emergency fund
It’s always a good idea to double-check that you have sufficient savings for a rainy day—but especially in times when the economy may be slowing from its once robust pace. Morgan Stanley’s economics team forecasts year-over-year US GDP growth to remain flat in the fourth quarter of 2022 and to increase just 0.5% in 2023,1 down sharply from 5.7% in 2021.
An emergency fund can help keep you financially afloat in unforeseen life circumstances, like if your employment situation changes. Ideally, having three to six months of living expenses saved may provide you with a cushion.
3. Tackle your debt
Even if you’re already good about managing debt, consider taking steps to help reduce and consolidate it further. For example, if you’re expecting a raise or year-end bonus, consider applying the extra income to any loan or credit card balances with high interest rates.
Then, think about consolidating any remaining debt, which can let you swap the varying interest rates on multiple loans, credit lines, or cards for a potentially lower rate on a single loan. Reducing the number of loans you carry can also help simplify your financial life and ease monetary stress.
4. Take advantage of corporate benefits
The pandemic may no longer be weighing as heavily on some people’s minds as it once did: According to Morgan Stanley’s 2022 Investor Pulse Poll, a lower percentage of survey respondents (37%) reported that their emotional health had suffered due to the pandemic in 2022, down from 43% in 2021.
Still, the new year can be an opportunity to continue prioritizing your personal and financial wellness. Consider taking advantage of any employer wellness resources for physical, mental, or financial health. Employers are increasingly offering financial benefits in the form of student loan repayment and financial wellness programs. Talk with your human resources representative to understand what’s available.
5. Make sure you’re on track with your investing goals
Be sure to check whether you’re still tracking toward your goals, such as saving and investing for a comfortable retirement. It’s important to revisit your retirement plan every year to understand how much you’ll need to accumulate, see where you currently stand, and make any adjustments to help to stay on track. If you don’t have a retirement plan, now may be a good time to create one.
The retirement planning calculator can help you create a personalized plan, track your progress, and get helpful tips to boost your outlook.
6. Review your life insurance policy
Life insurance can be an important part of a well-rounded financial plan. If you are wondering when you may need life insurance, these factors can help you decide. If you do have a policy, get into the habit of checking it every year. Marriage, divorce, the birth of a child, or a change in health are common life events that may prompt a need for more—or less—coverage. It’s also important to make sure your beneficiary designations are up to date.
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