How to build financial goals for 2018

Many across the country like their odds of making more money in the New Year. According to a Fidelity Investments study, 76 percent of Americans believe they’ll be better off financially in 2018, but only 27 percent plan to make a financial resolution for this year.

For those looking to make resolutions, however, CBS News business analyst Jill Schlesinger recommended focusing on three things:

“Did you incur some credit card debt over the holidays? Number one, let’s make a plan to pay that down. Number two, did you drain some money out of that emergency reserve fund? I know you hate when I tell you this, but six months of your living expenses should be kept safe,” Schlesinger said Monday on “CBS This Morning.”

Once those two are done, Schlesinger advised: “Please try to maximize your retirement plan contributions as much as you can.”

In 2018, the 401(k) limit for participating employees is $18,500, $500 more than the previous year. For people over 50 years old, the catch-up contribution limit remains $6,000 for a total of $24,500. For IRA or Roth IRAs, contribution limits are unchanged at $5,500 and $6,500 for people over 50.

As for investments, Schlesinger suggested it’s a good time to assess what you have in stock.

“I think that when you come off of a huge year like we’ve just had, and somewhat unexpectedly – I don’t think many people a year ago thought we would have this strong of a year – is the perfect time to say, ‘Let me look at what I have. Let me look at the stuff that’s in my retirement account and should I rebalance it?'” Schlesinger said. “That means that if you’re the kind of investor who doesn’t love risk, you’re a balanced investor, maybe you started 2017 saying 50 percent stocks and 50 percent bonds. Well, the markets were so good this year you might have done 70 percent in stocks right now. So you want to take some of the money out of the stocks, move it into the bonds, and rebalance those allocations.”

The same thing applies to employees who are in company stock plans as part of their 401(k)s, she said.

“Rebalance that as well because you’ve had a great year mostly, you don’t want to take extra risks unnecessarily,” Schlesinger said.

Schlesinger also said it’s important to track your expenses and get your annual credit report to make sure there are no errors.

“Be clear. Guard that identity like it’s your body,” she added. 

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