New Resolutions for a New Decade

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As the calendar moves steadily towards a New Year and a new decade, it’s common for people to consider resolutions for the year ahead. Fitness and weight loss goals are the most popular. Loads of people start off at the gym in January, less make it back in February and most give up on their fitness resolutions by early March. In my opinion, the best way to ensure to success is to build accountability into your resolutions.

For many years, I was the best and most committed exerciser for two weeks. Then life (or the snooze bar on my alarm) would get in the way, I’d miss a day or two and would never restart. It wasn’t until I agreed to meet friends to run or go to a boot camp class at 5:30 AM that it truly became a habit and part of my life. I realize how awful 5:30 AM sounds, especially to this former late sleeper – but it’s the only time of day that you can truly control. At that time of the morning, it’s you versus the pillow. The kids are still asleep and work (for me) doesn’t start until 8:30. If I tell someone that I will meet them, I will peel myself out of bed. I have found that getting my heart rate up first thing in the morning really helps me face the days’ challenges with a greater sense of calm.  I have also found that I sleep way better at the end of the day! An added bonus is the friendships you build over early morning miles or yoga poses. I’ve met some of my best friends through the running community even though my gimpy knee keeps me from running now. These days, I’ve transitioned to hot yoga and lots of tennis with the occasional bike ride thrown in.

Another area that is a focus of New Year’s resolutions is personal finance. Whether the goal is to save more or finally pay-off student loans or credit cards, the New Year is a great time to put some financial fitness habits in place. Instead of saying no to a night out with friends, agree to be the designated driver and feel way better both physically and financially the next morning. For those of you that have a hard time saying no to the shiny new thing, I recommend placing your credit cards in a big Tupperware container and storing it in the freezer. Once frozen, you won’t be able to see the credit card number and it will take a while to thaw them so you can use them again. Be sure to delete them from your Apple wallet and online shopping accounts while you’re at it.

If you’re not sure where to start, Dave Ramsey’s method of the debt snowball is surprisingly effective. It’s easier to stay committed when you’re seeing progress. If you’re not familiar, Dave advocates paying the minimum balance on all debts and credit cards except the smallest one – throw every penny you can at the smallest balance. Once it’s gone, pay off the next smallest debt, rinse and repeat. Eventually, you’ll be left with one debt and by that point, living on less than you make, should be a habit. One way to make this work even faster, assuming you have a good credit rating, is to transfer some of the balance to a new credit card that charges you zero interest for 6-18 months. This way, more of your payments go to paying down principal and will reduce the time it takes to become debt free.

Before you start on any debt repayment plan, we recommend setting aside $500-$2,500 in a savings account for emergencies. Stacey’s version of Murphy’s Law states that, “What can go wrong, will go wrong at the absolute worst possible time!”  If you have some money earmarked for emergencies, you’re much more likely to take care of the small problems (car service light, water spot on the ceiling, etc.) before they become big problems (major engine or plumbing repair).

Once you’ve paid off your debts, it’s important to start saving! If your employer offers a 401k or other retirement plan, that’s a great way to put aside money each paycheck. Many employers offer a match or other “free money” as a reward for contributing. But don’t fall into the trap of thinking that a 401k loan is an easy way to pay off debt. Studies show that employees who take 401k loans wind up with substantially less in retirement balances than those who don’t. Also, the payments required to repay a 401k loan will reduce your take home pay and often leave you less money to pay other bills. It’s a dangerous spiral.

While it can be hard to stick to any resolutions, the results are huge. Better health, greater peace of mind and improved financial security. Eliminating debt makes it easier to say yes to so many wonderful things. In my case, that’s helping others and starting a financial planning firm with some great friends.

I wish you much success in the New Year pursuing the life you Envision!

Stacey Hyde, CPA, CFA, CFP® is a financial planner at Envision Financial Planning who works with individuals and families to help them live the life they envision. Money is a tool, use it wisely.

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Our approach is to discover a client’s goals, determine the personal financial plan that is needed, and aid the client in reaching those goals. Our success is measured by how well our clients achieve their goals.
Hank has had a distinguished career in the financial services industry, including more than 40 years in the financial planning and securities fields. From 1985 to 2013, Hank provided fee-only financial planning services through his firm, Lifetime Planning, Inc. Hank merged his practice with Stacey’s in 2014. In addition, Hank is a member of both the local and the national chapters of the Financial Planning Association (FPA).
Hank received his bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Mississippi, where he also lettered in football. He received his initial securities training at Merrill Lynch. He was a financial planning consultant for the Memphis office of Ernst & Young and financial planner at Morgan Keegan & Company, Inc. from 1982 through 1984. In April 1984, Hank completed his CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional requirements with the College for Financial Planning in Denver, Colorado.
In addition to his financial planning practice, Hank has enjoyed serving on the boards of Presbyterian Day School, Second Presbyterian Church, University of Mississippi, and the Christian Community Foundation. Hank served as the chief financial officer of the Christian Community Foundation from its inception in October 1998 until October 2000. Hank enjoys reading, hunting, and attending baseball and college football games.
Clay serves Envision Financial Planning’s clients as the investment officer and portfolio manager. His duties include overseeing the firm’s investment process and money management strategies with a strong focus on “goals-based” investment planning.
As a firm, we believe in concentrating on things we can control such as:
Clay is a native Memphian and a graduate of the University of Mississippi. He began his career working for a regional broker/dealer specializing in fixed-income securities, and prior to joining Envision, Clay was an investment research analyst and portfolio manager for a private wealth management firm in Memphis. Clay currently holds his FINRA Series 66 securities registration and obtained his CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ designation in 2021.
In his free time, Clay enjoys playing golf, exercising, reading, and cooking with friends and family. He and his wife, Margot, have two boys named Callan and Wiley.