Financial resolve: Experts offer advice, share their own goals
BY LAURIE WINSLOW World Staff Writer
Sunday, January 27, 2013
1/27/13 at 7:02 AM
Related story: Financial resolve: Do's and don'ts to get on the right track
Are you still seeing red from the holidays?
You know - the kind of red that shows up in your bank account and means you are overdrawn from all that shopping.
Now that 2013 is here, January is the perfect time to re-evaluate your finances and decide where improvements can be made.
As a new year begins, financial and consumer experts offer financial advice they have for readers. This year they offered their own financial goals for 2013. Here's their advice.
Wants versus needs
Mary Buffington Thomas, director of education for Credit Counseling Centers of Oklahoma Inc., plans to pay even closer attention to her spending and find ways to save.
"Since I'm approaching retirement, I'm looking at things differently," she said.
Thomas turned 64 last month and wants to be able to buy things for her grandsons without feeling pinched in retirement or ignoring future health-care needs. Would she be able to buy medication after insurance had paid its portion? Would she be able to pay for an emergency without breaking her budget?
This year Thomas is re-evaluating needs versus wants.
She often shops for clothes at the end of the season to take advantage of bargains. But she already has plenty of clothes taking up closet space.
"Instead of going out and buying new things because this is the end of the season, I'm wearing things in my closet that I can still get into," she said. "... It's like I have a new wardrobe because I'm wearing things I haven't worn for years."
Thomas said she's looking at the total picture, including grocery shopping, and approaching it totally differently than before. Brand name paper towels instead of generic? Or maybe a container of utility towels?
Thomas makes a shopping list, determines what are needs and what are not. It's a challenge, she said, to find ways to save.
"I don't want to be a miser ... but can I do something different?" she said. "Can I make it better?"
Review insurance policies
Charlotte Richert, director for the Tulsa County Oklahoma State University Extension Office, plans to review her family's insurance papers and make sure that they have adequate coverage.
She recently lost a diamond from her wedding ring and removed the ring to avoid the risk of losing any more. Then she thought she had lost the ring, but she luckily found it.
That situation prompted her to review her family's insurance documents.
Another resolution is to focus on repairs and fixing her home so that it doesn't lose value. That definitely affects finances, she said.
Help clients meet goals
For Ken Grant, a partner and wealth consultant with Waterstone Private Wealth Management in Owasso and Tulsa, this year will be a continuation of what he and his wife, Melanie Hasty-Grant, who is the founder of their company, have done for the past couple of years.
"That is to make sure that we're not overleveraged, that we're well within our means and creating savings because we perceive the market has more challenges in front of it," he said.
They plan to continue being fiscally responsible, which involves saving and staying within budget. "We're blessed to have a very stable clientele base, so our income doesn't fluctuate," Grant said. "But you have to be able to create that savings."
From a business standpoint, the goal in 2013 is to pass that message on to clients and help stabilize them in an unstable market. It matters where they are invested, Grant said, noting that their investments need to be in line with their goals and needs and be prepared for volatility.
Conservative investors or retirees may have thought that fixed-income investments and bonds would help them reach their goals, but that may not be the case in the economic climate. Someone who needs a 3 to 5 percent income stream but is invested in something that pays 0.5 percent won't meet his or her goals, Grant said.
Refinance, boost 401(k)
With interest rates at low levels, Beau Brock, a financial adviser with Brock & Associates, a financial advisory practice of Ameriprise Financial Services Inc., plans to look at refinancing his family's mortgage.
"I have refinanced in the past, but I know rates have gone down a bit more, so I'm curious to see if there is much benefit to refinancing and reducing my overall costs," he said.
Brock, who also has a son in college, hopes to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid by early spring to see if his son will qualify for additional aid.
He plans to bump up his 401(k) contribution to the 2013 limit of $17,500. "I'm going to need money in retirement, and this gives me a good, tax-efficient way to do that," he said.
Knowing money mindsets
Jane Mudgett plans to pay closer attention not only to where she is spending money but also why.
A local business person and former accountant, Mudgett frequently deals with budgets and investing but currently is interested in learning more about "money scripts" or "money mindsets" - money messages that people receive as children.
Mudgett received different money messages from her parents as a child. From her father, saving was based on fear because he didn't want to end up in poverty like his parents. His father never earned more than $35 a week.
Her mother equated spending with a personal reward. Spending had a "feel-good element" to it, Mudgett said.
Those contrasting messages have shaped Mudgett's own saving and spending habits. Spending shouldn't be related to feeling good. Nor should it be based on fear or anxiety, she said.
Now Mudgett wants to understand those contrasting money messages and balance the two better.
Three tips to help you get back in the black for 2013
The Association of Independent Consumer Credit Counseling Agencies offers these tips to get you back in the black for 2013:
Cut expenses. Brown-bag your lunch and limit eating out. Check out books and movies from the library.
Find extra cash. If the money you save is not enough to tackle your debt in 90 days or less, consider a second job, working overtime, holding a garage sale or selling unwanted items online.
Plan for 2014. Review your holiday expenses from last year and begin saving now with that amount as a goal.
Original Print Headline: Financial resolve: Staying out of the red
Laurie Winslow 918-581-8466
BrockMary Buffington Thomas of Tulsa looks for sales as she shops for groceries Wednesday at Reasor's near 15th Street and Lewis Avenue. Thomas says this year she will re-evaluate her financial needs versus wants. CORY YOUNG / Tulsa World
Mary Buffington Thomas of Tulsa crosses off items on her grocery list. Thomas said of her financial resolutions for 2013: "I don't want to be a miser ... but can I do something different?" CORY YOUNG / Tulsa World