2017 Financial Game Plan: The Experts Weigh in

It’s the dawn of a new year, and everyone around you is reinventing themselves. Dating sites, gyms and professional networking sites are already feeling the boom in business, but you’re going to achieve something else entirely. 2017 is going to be the year you finally get on track, financially.

We can practically hear you screaming from underneath that mountain of debt you call ‘life’ (or, sometimes, ‘home’, ‘college’ or ‘kids’): How could we possibly know that? You could have any number of problem areas, just take a look at your Change account: from overspending, to insufficient/unreliable earnings, surmounting debt, lack of financial awareness, snowballing fees and even a lack of impulse control. And still, we’re positive 2017 is the year you get all of that in check, because we know that when you’re committed, and armed with the best advice out there, nothing could possibly stop you. Luckily, all you have to do is take care of the commitment part, because we’ve rounded up the best expert advice on how to manage your finances, investments and debt in the best possible way.

Expert Tip #1 Find your Money Mantra — Suze Orman

Think hard and identify one area in which you’d like to see a real breakthrough in your finances this year. Then, follow the advice of financial guru Suze Orman from CNBC’s Suze Orman Show and author of bestselling book including The Money Book for the Young, Fabulous and Broke: Come up with a personal money mantra made up of what you are going to do with money this year, and why you’ll be doing that. Then, repeat it at least 3 times per day with all your energy focused on it. Adopting a habit of thinking about something can be a powerful motivator to get us to act on something.

Your mantra won’t be identical to anyone else’s, so choose it wisely. It can be anything from “I will learn from other business owners so I can feel more secure starting my own business this year”, to “I will construct the best retirement plan for me, to give me peace of mind in old age”. You can even venture as far as to decide your mantra will be along the lines of “I will save 5% of my income every month so I can comfortably afford to go to Coachella” — it’s about highlighting whatever is a priority for you!

Expert Tip #2: Pay Yourself First — David Bach

When it comes to author of 9 New York Times Bestsellers David Bach, he sees things a bit differently. He wants you to change what you think it means to get paid. Instead of painstakingly budgeting and carefully calculating what you have to spend at the end of each month, decide that the first hour’s payment for every day of work goes to you.

Confused? We’ll clarify. This doesn’t mean you have an excuse to get a Starbucks venti every day of the workweek from now on. It means that that first hour’s pay goes to things that have your back, namely an IRA, 401K or 403b fund. By adopting this habit and making the transfers automatic, the money won’t be in your account at any point, saving you from the small heartache that happens whenever money is taken from your checking account, then placed into savings.

Expert Tip #3: Master the Basics — Jean Chatzky

Financial journalist Jean Chatzky from NBC’s Today Show favors a threefold approach made up of paying off debt, improving credit and amping up retirement savings. Sure, none of these sound like groundbreaking financial advice, but you know what they say about ‘the basics’.

Sound advice is evergreen, and if you haven’t mastered the basic pillars of personal financial management, there’s no time like the present. Flexing these muscles is the foundation for the way your finances are going to go during the rest of your life, so take a good look at what you could be doing better — and step up.

Expert Tip #4: Follow that Hunch — Barbara Corcoran

On ABC’s Shark Tank, real estate mogul Barbara Corcoran doles out advice to wannabe entrepreneurs and even takes a stake in their businesses when she sees fit. So, you could see she probably knows a thing or two about what it takes to start a business and make it stick.

Her tip for those planning to start a business in 2017 came through Twitter, and it was surprisingly simple considering her years of success and savvy: “The secret to starting a successful business is following a hunch that what you love is what a lot of customers are will to pay for, too!”

Motivated? It really can be as simple as that.

Expert Tip #5: Develop Nerves of Steel — Preet Banerjee

Host of Oprah Network’s Million Dollar Neighborhood Preet Banerjee is known for his call to revert to the way things used to be when it comes to personal financial management. In a TED talk viewed by millions, he argued that we should go back to hating debt — instead of actively seeking it out by taking on loans to pay for depreciating assets.

That same mindset of avoiding mob mentality can be detected in his approach to investments: “Investments are like a bar of soap. The more you touch it, the smaller it gets.” Essentially, he’s saying any disciplined investor has to be willing to grow a pair (pardon our french) and wait it out, instead of reacting hysterically to market shifts, which could end up depleting the portfolio quickly. If you’re in it for the long term, Preet suggests you “simply [tune] out the short term market movements and corresponding noise from the media”, allowing you to preserve your focus instead of sacrificing it for minor overblown shifts.

Remember, you can always mold everyone’s advice to fit your circumstances, which only you can know fully. Just be honest with yourself about whether you’re adapting an expert’s tip to suit your needs, or actually avoiding accountability and sabotaging yourself. If you can save 10% of your income, that’s perfectly fine — but if you can comfortably save 20% and are avoiding it, ask yourself why. If you’ve been inspired to turn your finances around in 2017, commit fully and don’t let anything stop you.

Change develops an Invisible Service that links to bank and credit card accounts, analyzes money transactions and discovers bad financial behavior (symptoms). It then matches those symptoms with behavioral treatments that are executed through smart sms messages (nudges).

Originally published at gochange.co on January 11, 2017.

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