THE FOLLOWING IS AN INTERVIEW WITH CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER BRUCE HAGAN:
ANGELA: What are some financial resolutions we should consider for 2011?
BRUCE: It may be helpful to break them down into 3 categories and I would suggest they are: 1. Organization 2. Retirement Planning 3. Behavioral changes
ANGELA: Well let's start with Organization
BRUCE: We've all heard the analogy that you need a road map, or I guess a GPS in today's world, if you get in your car and start out on a long journey to somewhere you've never been. Similarly, you need some financial planning directions in your journey to and during retirement. This is not a simple process and you should seek help from a certified financial planner. You should be able to find a CFP who will spend the time to do this for a flat fee of around $300 and it's well worth it. You'll be creating a road map from the destination point back to where you are now and for most people it will be the first time they'll have a definitive feel of where they stand.
ANGELA: You're second category is related; it's Retirement Planning.
BRUCE: Yes, take advantage of tax breaks the government gives you with IRAs, Roths, and 401(k)s. If you're fortunate enough to work for a company that has a 401(k) and has an employer matching contribution of 25 cents or higher on your dollar contribution up to a certain level, you're crazy not to participate and get that free money. And for your overall amount of savings, try to increase it by at least 1 or 2% in 2011. It won't be a big bite now but could make a nice difference later.
ANGELA: Now what about those behavioral changes?
BRUCE: Don't impulse shop; try paying with cash when you can; track your spending; cook at home more; attack non-essential spending- do you really need a latte every day? could you live with basic cable service vs. the deluxe package? are you paying $75 a month for a storage space that's holding $400 worth of stuff? There may be some expenses you can shed.