Only 33% of Americans feel more comfortable financially compared to last year, according to the Federal Reserve. That means a whopping 67% feel the same or worse.
So what can you do? You could toss those poor performing stocks or funds, or donate items for a tax write-off. But will you?
What else could you do to easily boost your finances and reduce your money stress?
For years, I’ve made it a habit to sit down and create a plan for the New Year. It’s become a model for how I can strategize the way a CEO might but for my personal life.
The first step is to create a written plan. You can access a simple template here, but in short, the idea is to think about the specific goals you want to achieve in up to five key areas:
Career-related goals might be enhancing your digital skills, writing a thought leadership article to show off your expertise, joining a key professional or networking organization, or securing a raise.
Financial goals could include scheduling a quarterly financial date with your partner to stay in sync financially, updating a will for a new child, shifting to online bill pay to save time, or devoting a percentage of earnings monthly to paying off debt.
Make an effort to connect with close friends and feel a sense of community… it’s important to have when we find ourselves buried in work or stress.
With that backdrop, here are three easy moves to boost your finances:
Invest idle cash
If you could earn more on your money without worrying about the rough and tumble of the stock market, wouldn’t you?
According to the Federal Reserve, literally trillions of dollars are sitting on the sidelines earning next to zero. Recent reports (and my own experience) have shown that even money stashed in money market funds offer abysmally low returns as firms seek to take a greater share for themselves.
So it’s your job to make sure your cash is earning what it can.
If you’re uncertain about what to do, consider putting idle cash in CDs. These certificates of deposits offer a predictable payout for shorter-term maturities — from three months to three years or more — and are insured up to $250,000 by the FDIC (Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.). The longer the maturity, generally the higher the interest rate. A common strategy, especially with rates likely to move up, is to “ladder” out with different maturities.
As an example, investing $25,000 in a five-year CD with a 3.15% annual percentage yield would generate $4,258.48 in interest compared to a checking account paying 2.25%, which would generate just $2,973.86 — or nearly $1,300 less assuming the checking rate doesn’t change.
Examine money sitting idle in both your 401(k) and your regular bank or brokerage account. Hop on the phone with a brokerage adviser and get the job done. It’s really not so hard.
Find a Money Buddy
Find a partner, a Money Buddy — someone you trust and admire, someone who is experienced enough to offer feedback and emotional support; someone who will challenge you to think outside the box and move you past those barriers and onto success. It’s a lot cheaper than a $10,000 executive coach so long as you have a solid partner.
For years, that person for me was a reporter for a top newspaper. We’d get together quarterly and review our written goals and roadblocks. We checked in with each other — via phone (or text) for updates.
One of her career goals was to write a book on public relations (PR). “Did you get your book proposal written,” I’d ask? She did — and ultimately landed a publisher. It helped her build her PR consulting practice and her income stream.
Create a hero report, and deliver it by Jan. 4
Don’t expect that your boss knows everything you do. If you want a pay raise, a shift in responsibilities or just an increase in job security, create a year-end “Hero Report.”
This report should easily summarize your accomplishments and impact on the business or organization.
For example, did you implement a strategy to save on costs or generate revenue? Did you modernize an area? Did you organize a team to address some challenge? What was the result?
The key is to make it easy for an executive to read and walk away with clear understanding of the impact you’ve had on the organization. Keep it simple but powerful.
Consider doing it monthly to keep those higher-ups informed of your contributions.
It’s 2019. Boost your finances and job security with these easy moves. The world is changing fast — stay focused and the pieces will fall into place.
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