The start of a new year is a popular time to focus on personal finances. And if you’re married, that’s something you want to do with your partner. Here are some specific financial conversations you can have this January to set yourself up for a successful 2024.
1. What is our top financial priority this year?
Perhaps you and your spouse realize that you are not adequately prepared for a financial emergency. Seeing as how 63% of Americans don’t have enough savings to cover an unplanned $500 expense, according to SecureSave, that’s not surprising. In that case, you may decide that increasing your savings account balance is your primary goal.
Or maybe you have a decent emergency fund, but your retirement savings need work. In that case, you can explore your options to find the right retirement plan and at the same time find out how much you can afford to contribute this year.
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2. What do we do with all our debt?
If you feel like you’re drowning in debt, you’re undoubtedly in good company. As of the third quarter of 2023, Americans will have a collective $17.29 trillion in debt, according to Ascent research. By then, total credit card debt reached $1.08 trillion, with an average balance of $6,365 per household.
If you’re not comfortable with the amount of your debt, or if your monthly payments are putting a huge strain on your finances, then it’s time to come up with a plan together to get rid of that debt over time. This doesn’t mean you have to commit to being debt-free by 2024. That may not be possible, especially if you have a lot of debt, like a car loan or a mortgage.
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But if you have high-interest debt, like a credit card balance, to work on, then it’s a good idea to sit down and make a payment plan this month. That may mean consolidating your various balances into one credit card or into a personal loan, and then taking turns working on side hustles to drum up money to pay off the debt.
3. What changes in our spending do we need to make?
Maybe you and your spouse feel like you’re in good shape financially — you have enough emergency savings, you’re not carrying credit card balances every month, and you’re starting to build a retirement nest egg. Or maybe you and your partner agree that your finances are not good.
Either way, the start of the year is a good time to take stock of your spending — because whether you’re in a good place financially or not, there’s no point paying for things that don’t add much value to your life Look at your current bills and evaluate each one.
You may be paying for a streaming service you no longer use. Even if that only saves $15 a month, why not put that money in the bank or use it for other things? Similarly, if you audit your spending and realize you’re spending $500 a month on restaurants, that could be a wake-up call to do more cooking at home — especially if you have goals you are trying to save, such as construction. emergency fund or buy a house.
Talking about finances at the start of the year is a great way to start things off on the right foot. You can have these three conversations with your spouse this month so you can work together to make 2024 your best financial year yet.
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