Six ways to set yourself up for success in 2024

Morgan Stanley Wealth Management


Summary: The new year can be a good time to set yourself up for financial success. These six steps can help get you started.

Revisiting your finances at the start of a new year may not seem as exciting as making other resolutions, such as exercising more or taking steps to reduce stress in your life, but it’s important to remember that your financial wellness is often closely connected to your physical and mental health.1

The good news: Improving your financial wellbeing can be easier than you might think. Here are six simple steps you can take to help set yourself up for financial success in 2024 and beyond.

1. Revisit your household budget

Start the year by revisiting your budget. The good news: Improving your financial wellbeing can be easier than you might think. Here are six simple steps you can take to help set yourself up for financial success in 2024 and beyond.

This exercise can help you begin to determine your top priorities for 2024. 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.

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 adequate funds set aside for a rainy day—but that’s especially true in times when the economy may be slowing. While economic growth unexpectedly surged this year, Morgan Stanley Research’s economics team sees growth slowing going forward.

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—for critical expenses like housing, healthcare, and food—saved could 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. Check in on your retirement savings goals

It’s important to revisit your retirement savings every year to see where you currently stand, understand how much more you want to accumulate, and make any adjustments to your lifestyle and budget to help 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 and track your progress. Working with a Financial Advisor could also help.

And if you’ve changed jobs like many have over the last few years, you may want to consolidate your old employer-sponsored retirement plan into an IRA or into your new employer’s retirement plan.


5. Make sure you’re on track with your other investing goals

Be sure to check whether you’re still tracking toward your investing goals too. It may be helpful to ask questions like:

  • Am I investing in the causes I care about? If you’re passionate about specific causes like environmental sustainability and diversity equity and inclusion or you’re interested in long-term investment trends shaping the world we live in, consider E*TRADE from Morgan Stanley’s thematic ETFs.
  • Can I create or contribute to other accounts, like a 529 plan to help a younger loved one save for future education expenses?
  • When is the last time I revisited my asset allocation? The start to a new year can also be a good time to revisit your investment strategy and asset allocation to help ensure your portfolio is diversified across stocks, fixed income, cash, and other asset classes.
    • Consider learning more about how options or futures could help you navigate today’s markets. Adding futures to your trading strategy offers unique opportunities to diversify across more than 70 asset classes and manage risk around the clock, while options could offer the flexibility you need to manage portfolio volatility more effectively.
    • If you’re a new investor without a lot of experience or you prefer to delegate your own investing, E*TRADE’s robo-advisor, Core Portfolios, lets you select your risk profile and then uses an algorithm to automatically invest and manage your assets for you.

The new year can also be a good time to revisit your investment strategy and asset allocation to help ensure your portfolio is diversified.

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.

The source of this Morgan Stanley article, 6 Ways to Start Fresh Financially in 2024, was originally published on November 30, 2023.

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