Apprise’s Five Favorite Reads for the Week of December 17, 2023

five favorite reads short term financial goals
Our five favorite reads from the past three weeks. Plus: Setting a Short-Term Financial Goal for 2024!

Setting a Short-Term Financial Goal for 2024

Many of the most significant items in one’s life plan – or even more specifically one’s Goals for Life – are plotted years, if not decades, into the future: buying a house, having children, paying for college, helping elderly relatives, starting your own company, retirement, and establishing a legacy.

But there’s a whole lot of life happening in between those major milestones!

Here are three reasons why you should consider adding some short-term financial goals to your 2024 financial planning.

1. A SMART way to move forward.

Unless you win the lottery, receive an unexpected windfall, or lead your start-up to a huge sale, you probably won’t wake up one morning and buy a house. For most folks, the path to long-term financial goals is paved with countless short-term steps that build off each other and generate forward momentum.

The SMART framework – Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound – can help you break down big goals into smaller goals. This also makes it easier to regularly track, measure, manage, and achieve your goals.

For example, before you can buy a house, you’ll need the money for a down payment. If we assume you fall into the median of the National Realtor’s Association data for September 2023, you’ll need just under $32,000. If you have a short-term financial goal of buying a house in the next two years, you might set a SMART goal of depositing $1,350 every month into a dedicated savings account. $1,350 is a Specific and Measurable figure. You can include this amount in your monthly budget to make it more Achievable. It’s Relevant because you want to move! And it’s Time-bound to both short-term monthly savings goals and your long-term goal of buying a house.

Even better, as you work towards your home-buying SMART goal, you might identify other short-term financial goals that will help, such as paying down credit card debt.

2. Build better financial habits.

Again, absent a major windfall, magic tricks won’t help you achieve long-term financial goals. But paying yourself first with automatic contributions to your retirement, investment, and savings accounts, living within your means, and keeping debt low are financial planning fundamentals that can help you get where you want to go more efficiently.

Setting at least one short-term financial goal can put these principles into action and create positive money habits. Perhaps you’ll turn 50 next year and your short-term financial goal is to make catch-up contributions to your IRA. You might start by reviewing your monthly budget and identifying excess spending you can cut back on. For example, maybe you could eat out less often or cancel a couple of streaming subscriptions you never use. Planning your meals ahead of time and making a weekly grocery run for ingredients could help you start to lower your monthly credit card payments. Add those savings to your automatic monthly contributions and you’ll be topping off your IRA in no time. Doing so will give you a sense of short-term accomplishment as you work towards your long-term financial security.

3. Have more memorable moments.

One long-term financial goal we often neglect is getting more from our money than just more money. Focusing solely on achieving long-term financial goals like not running out of money in retirement can impact other elements of your life. It can cause you to miss out on precious opportunities between now and then to do more of the things you love with the people who matter the most.

But how can you be sure that saving for an extra vacation, a new car, or a membership at your local golf club isn’t going to prevent you from helping your kids pay for college in ten years?

A Life-Centered Financial Plan can give you the confidence to enjoy your money more in 2024.

Our Life Planning process can help you create a holiday spending plan that fits with the rest of your financial goals and sets you up to start 2024 on the right foot. It can help you better balance your spending with what matters most to you. Let’s meet to talk about balancing long-term and short-term goals and making next year your best year yet. If we’re not working together yet, and you would like to get started, schedule an introductory call.

This Week’s Favorite Reads

In this week’s favorite reads, we highlight topics such as ways to prepare for widowhood and protect the surviving spouse and an Apple product that can help reduce the amount of spam you receive. Plus, you can find an article about Charlie Munger that includes a surprising story that very few knew about.

Here are the links to this week’s articles as well as a brief description of each:

1. Six Ways to Prepare for Widowhood and Protect the Surviving Spouse.

You don’t want to plan for losing your spouse. But having a plan in place and knowing what to do when the time comes can help reduce at least some of the stress. Good tax planning plays a role in the process. For example, properly timed Roth conversions can help reduce the burden. You will also want to have estate-planning documents such as a will, power of attorney, and a health care power of attorney in place. Check out the article for some more good tips. You can also read this blog to learn more about the importance of taking both members of a couple into account when making Social Security claiming decisions.

2. The best Apple product you aren’t using costs just 99 cents.

Do you pay Apple for more cloud storage? I do, but I wasn’t aware of this feature until I read this article. Face it. Almost – perhaps all – of us get too many emails. We hesitate to subscribe to new lists or participate in new offers. Why? We don’t want even more spam in our inbox. If you subscribe while using a Safari browser on your iPhone, iPad, or Mac, try the “Hide My Email” feature. It creates a new email alias linked to your iCloud email address. You can see, manage, or delete any email alias using your iCloud settings. Check the article to learn how to use this helpful feature. I’m planning to start using it at my next opportunity.

3. Charlie Munger’s Life Was About Way More Than Money.

I shared some thoughts about Charlie Munger after his passing a few weeks ago. I have also read numerous articles about his life. This is one of my favorites. It includes a story I hadn’t heard before. It provides a great example of why not to only attribute success to brilliance and hard work. If this story had worked out differently, we would never have experienced Munger’s brilliance. If you want to read some Munger-isms, you can also check out this bonus link: The Uncommon Sense of Charlie Munger.

4. How Dogs Help Us Lead Longer, Healthier Lives.

For almost my entire life, my family has had a dog. At one time when I was growing up, we had five. Plus, my mother tried her hand at breeding to raise some extra cash. We had a small house at the time. Four of us lived in that house along with five dogs. On occasion, we had puppies, too. Watching them being born was pretty amazing. When I was dating my wife, I told her that if she married me, she would also be committing to owning a dog for the rest of her life. We have had five ShihTzus during our 28 years together. The two we have now are sisters from different litters. We recently added our first cat to the mix, too.

According to this article, dogs can help lower stress. They can reduce the effects of allergies and cardiovascular disease, too. How? They can give us a reason to focus on the future. While dog owners may not be naturally healthier, having them in your life can bring health benefits. People who have dogs even survive longer after having heart attacks or ischemic strokes. Perhaps having a dog can motivate you to improve your lifestyle and stress-management habits, too. Check out the article to learn more about how having a dog can benefit your health.

5. Before Your Child Goes to College, Complete These 6 Important Documents.

Remember that once children turn 18, parents can no longer access their financial accounts or medical records without permission. As part of the initial questionnaire Apprise gives to new clients, we ask if they have children over 18. If they do, we also want to know if they have a Healthcare Power of Attorney (HPOA) for them. Imagine that while your child is away at college, they get injured. Without an HPOA, you can’t find out anything about their condition. This happened to someone my oldest son knows. His mother couldn’t find out anything about his condition until she got to his out-of-state college. This article shares six important documents you should have before your children go to college.

Our practice continues to benefit from referrals from our clients and friends. Thank you for your trust and confidence.

If you would like to talk to us about financial topics including your investments, creating your life plan, saving for college, or saving for retirement, please complete our contact form or schedule a call or a virtual meeting via Zoom. We will be in touch.

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