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It's Time to Revisit Your Annual Financial Goals. How Did You Do? Thumbnail

It's Time to Revisit Your Annual Financial Goals. How Did You Do?

About the author: Lamar Watson, CFP®, is a Fee-Only Financial Advisor in the Washington, D.C., area who works with clients virtually across the country. Dream Financial Planning is a Fiduciary Financial Planning firm specifically designed to help individuals in their 30s and 40s take control of their finances and fulfill their dreams. Feel free to schedule a Free Consultation to learn how we use the DREAM Financial Planning Process ™ to help our clients achieve their goals. 

As another year comes to a close, it’s time to look back on your 2023 financial journey. Did you achieve the goals you set out to accomplish at the beginning of the year? Did you experience unexpected financial challenges? Were there areas where you excelled and others where you fell short? 

This blog will guide you through the process of checking in on your annual financial goals, evaluating your performance over the past year, and setting meaningful goals for 2024.

How to Revisit Your Annual Financial Goals

Let’s go over some steps to take as you evaluate your 2023 financial goals.

Review Your Initial Goals
Start by revisiting the financial goals you set for yourself at the beginning of 2023. These goals could include paying off debt, paying for a child or grandchild’s education, investing for retirement, or achieving any other financial aspirations you had in mind.

Assess Your Progress
Then evaluate how much progress you made toward each goal. Did you achieve them, partially achieve them, or fall short? Be honest with yourself, as this assessment will form the basis for your financial reflections and goal setting for the upcoming year.

Consider Unexpected Financial Events
Consider any unexpected financial events that may have occurred during the year. These could be positive, such as unexpected windfalls or promotions, or negative—for example, medical expenses or interest rate hikes on mortgages and car payments. These events can have a significant impact on your financial journey and should be factored into your assessment.

Analyze Your Budget
Review your budget for 2023. Did you stick to it? Identifying areas where you overspent or underspent can help you make more informed decisions for the future.

Judge Your Financial Performance

Now that we’ve gone over how to revisit what happened in 2023, let’s look at how to judge your financial performance.

Ask Yourself the Tough Questions

To effectively judge your financial performance over the past year, ask yourself these important questions:

  • Did I increase my net worth this year?
  • Did I reduce my debt, if applicable?
  • Did I save and invest according to my financial plan?
  • Did I achieve my short-term and long-term financial goals?
  • Did I maintain an emergency fund?
  • Did I contribute to my retirement accounts?
  • Did I manage to stay within my budget and control my spending?
  • Did I make progress toward achieving financial independence?

One of the tools I use with clients is Elements. With Elements, we can create the following outputs that will help you track your net worth and key financial health measures over time to ensure you're on track to meet your goals.

One Page Financial Plan

Financial Independence Presentation

Quantify Your Achievements
Use measurable metrics to quantify your financial achievements. For instance, calculate your net worth, total debt reduction, savings rate, and investment returns. Having concrete numbers will give you a clear picture of how well you performed in 2023.

Reflect on Non-Monetary Achievements
Don’t forget to reflect on non-monetary achievements as well. Did you learn more about personal finance? Did you develop better financial habits? Did you make strides in improving your financial literacy? These non-monetary gains are crucial for long-term financial success.

Setting Goals for 2024

Lastly, let’s set goals for 2024 so you can kick the new year off right!

Identify Your Priorities
Begin by identifying your financial priorities for 2024. Are there any outstanding goals from 2023 that you want to roll over into the new year? Additionally, consider new objectives that may have emerged throughout the year.

Make SMART Goals
SMART goals are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Timely.1 Ensure that your goals for 2024 adhere to these criteria. For example, instead of saying “I want to save more,” you could say, ‘I will save $10,000 for a down payment on a house by December 31, 2024.”

Create a Detailed Plan
Develop a detailed plan for each of your financial goals. Break them down into smaller, actionable steps that you can track throughout the year. This will help you stay motivated.

Adjust Your Budget
If your financial goals for 2024 require adjustments to your budget, make those changes early on. Allocate resources strategically to ensure you’re on track to meet your objectives.

Monitor and Adapt
Regularly monitor your progress throughout the year. Make adjustments as needed, and don’t be discouraged by setbacks. Financial journeys are rarely linear, and adaptability is key to success.

Reflecting on your financial journey in 2023 and setting goals for 2024 is a valuable exercise in personal finance. It allows you to take control of your financial destiny, learn from past experiences, and make informed decisions for the future.

The Different Ways You Can Work With Us

Wealth Management - Combines ongoing financial planning and investment management. The financial planning fee is waived if we manage at least $500,000 in investments for you. Tax Preparation will be included.

Ongoing Financial Planning - Our most popular program now includes tax prep. This is a good fit if you have several goals and want the option to manage your investments. We'll cover everything from spending, insurance, taxes, investments, retirement planning, and estate planning, just to name a few. Our goal is to give you and your family an easy-to-understand comprehensive plan to provide you with confidence you're making the right financial decisions.

One-Time Financial Plan With Ongoing Support - An accelerated version of the service above with additional support for one year after your start date. This service requires prepayment for the year and is offered at a significant discount from the annual pricing for ongoing planning.

Estate Planning - If you're looking for a cost-effective solution to get your estate planning documents in place, we can help. We have partnered with a leading Estate Planning platform to deliver high-quality Estate Planning documents for a fraction of the cost of working with an attorney.

Revocable Living Trust-Based Estate Plan

  • Individual - $1,600
  • Couple - $2,100

Will-Based Estate Plan

  • Individual - $900
  • Couple - $1,400

Tax preparation is now part of the ongoing financial planning program. This will be in addition to the Tax Report we already generate for clients and our work with the IRS Withholding Calculator to help prevent our clients from getting a surprise tax bill.

Three-Hour Ask Me Anything - This is a good fit if you have 2-3 goals you want help with. These three one-hour meetings need to be completed within three months. The fee for this service is $2,000.    

Financial Coaching - Our financial coaching program starts at $99/month. This is ideal for someone who is looking to simplify and automate their finances. We'll also serve as an accountability partner and help you overcome obstacles that may be stopping you from accomplishing your goals. You can learn more about our coaching program here. If you think this program might be a good fit for you, schedule a 15-Minute Demo.

Paying for College

This service is an ideal fit for parents of high school juniors and seniors with a standardized test score (ACT/SAT) and a list of colleges they're considering. This is included as part of ongoing financial planning or as a stand-alone package. This service includes:

  • A college affordability assessment
  • How Much Colleges Think You Can Afford (EFC) 
  • If You Qualify for Need-based Grants
  • If You Qualify for Merit-based Scholarships
  • Help you search for scholarships
  • 1 Year Out of Pocket Cost (For Each College)
  • 4 Year Out of Pocket Cost (For Each College)    

I hope we get the opportunity to work together. If you'd like to see if any of these services are a good fit for you, feel free to schedule a free consultation or send me an e-mail.

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  1. https://www.atlassian.com/blog/productivity/how-to-write-smart-goals

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