This story originally appeared on Black Enterprise
2023 is just over the horizon now that we’re in December and it’s setting up to be another year of instability with inflation still rising along with unemployment and the country heading into a recession.
If you’re a budding entrepreneur, an investor, or someone looking to build wealth, doing it the right way will take research, a hustle mentality and the right information. BLACK ENTERPRISE is here to help with ten tips from top financial experts to help you in the new year.
Determine your financial goals
Everyone has different goals. Whether it’s restoring credit, saving for retirement, buying a home or college tuition, knowing what you want to do in the new year is the first step.
Determining your short and long-term financial goals is the first step towards reaching them and will also keep you from setting your goals too high.
“One of the difficulties with goal-setting is ‘all or nothing thinking,” Brittney Castro, a certified financial planner at Mint, told NBC. “It’s an extreme mindset, and when we do things like that, we set ourselves up for failure because we don’t take into consideration all the grays of life.”
The second step in any financial plan is budgeting. It doesn’t matter what your goals are, saving, restoring your credit or wealth building, you can’t get on the road to financial freedom without a map and you budget it that map.
“My best tip for tracking, organizing, and staying on top of my finances is to create a monthly budget or a spending plan (for those who find the word budget really boring). The importance of creating a budget cannot be over-emphasized because having a budget helps me,” Esther Mukoro, a financial coach and the founder of Money Nuggets told Liberty Paperwork Solutions..
If you can’t stick to your budget, plan your spending
If you’ve set budget after budget and continuously blow through them, then it may be easier to create a spending plan instead.
“The concept of living on a spending plan instead of a budget can give you freedom and peace of mind,” Loreen Gilbert, a wealth manager, and CEO at WealthWise Financial Services told Bankrate.
Additionally, a spending plan allows you to choose what to spend your money on instead of being focused on what you can’t buy. Start with necessary expenses, rent, food utilities and savings. Money Management apps can also help you keep track of things and make automated payments or transfers.
Track your accounts and your purchases regularly
In some months people can be frugal while in other months people might overspend a bit if issues or events come up. Tracking your accounts regularly will not show you where your money is going, but will also show you know when your spending is getting out of hand. Additionally, it can also help let you know when it’s time to pull back on spending and save more.
“Check your account balances daily and see where your money is really going. This can also help you see when your funds are getting too low and you need to curb your spending. I also recommend that people track every purchase for 30 days and also write down how they felt after the purchase. Many times we spend mindlessly and not necessarily within our values. This exercise can be eye-opening,” Melanie Lockert, author and founder of the blog Dear Debt told Liberty Solutions.
Plan monthly no-spend weekends
One of the best ways to save money is by not staying in. No-spend weekends are a great way to give your accounts and cards a break. Start by planning for your weekends ahead of time. Pick up whatever food and entertainment you need before the weekend. If you live in a large metro area, figure out what free events there are that weekend that’ll pique your interest. Another option is to stay at home with some comfort food, stay out of the winter weather and stream your favorite movies and shows
“I did my first no-spend week a few months ago and saved over $200,” Emma Newberry said in an article she wrote for The Motley Fool.
MoneyGeek also features a list of more than 40 things you can do on a weekend to fill a no-spend weekend.
Boost your retirement savings
For those of you who are already well into your financial plan and are waiting for that beautiful day called retirement, boosting your retirement savings is paramount as inflation is driving many who called it quits back into the workforce.
Today, you need to make sure your retirement money will last and unpredictable circumstances don’t empty your savings faster than you planned. Lorna Sabbia, the head of retirement and personal wealth solutions at Bank of America, suggests taking a long-term approach to your retirement plans.
“Use [the new year] to boost or maximize contributions to 401(k)s or HSAs, plot out holistic retirement goals (e.g., Where will I live? Will I work? How much to budget for travel?) and, no matter your age or life stage, take meaningful steps to boost your financial wellness,” Lorna Sabbia, the head of retirement and personal wealth solutions at Bank of America told Bankrate.
If You’re investing, wait for the right opportunity
Finance experts across the U.S. continue to say that a recession is coming at some point in 2023 and while many are scared about that, Kara Stevens, The Frugal Feminista told Black Enterprise Senior Vice President Alfred Edmond Jr. last month that a recession also brings opportunity.
“Technically a recession is when there is no growth or negative growth in the economy and typically you’ll see higher unemployment, higher interest rates and less consumer spending,” Stevens told Edmond on the Your Money, Your Life podcast. “The larger context is that these are cycles.”
“For those of us that understand the cycles, this is a great time to take advantage of sales in the market so if you change that mindset of scarcity of one into opportunity knowing that recessions happen and after the bear market there’s a big bull market right after so you want to be able to get through the recession for whatever happens after.”
Sticking to your financial goals during a recession will give you access to more opportunities as the market and the economy begins to bounce back.
Finding capital to start or help your business
It’s no secret that Black entrepreneurs struggle to find capital. However, the COVID-19 Pandemic and the 2020 Black Lives Matter Movement, led to a revolution in Black business.
So if you’re a budding entrepreneur looking for funding there are now a wealth of places where you can apply for funding. Lendistry, the only nationwide fintech CDFI and the only African-American-led small business lending company, is giving out $200 million to small and micro-businesses in New York. The Black Cooperative Investment Fund (BCIF) is providing microloans to small businesses in Southern California.
“We consider ourselves probably one of the largest African-American deployers of capital in the US,” Everette Sands told BLACK ENTERPRISE. “And after George Floyd, what was very important to me as the CEO is that we got a chance to sit at the table and help to influence or add our voice when various clients were starting to create programs such as the NY State Seed Fund.”
Stay away from risky investments
The tech industry has been one of the most tried and true investments in recent years with the growth of Amazon, Apple and Google. Cryptocurrency has also been viewed as a fast way to drive your accounts up.
However, the tech industry is currently laying off thousands of workers across the country. At the same time, many who poured money into cryptocurrency have lost it in what is an unregulated market including some notable celebrities and athletes who took money in Bitcoin.
Investing in safer areas isn’t foolproof, but they are areas where investment and the world are growing. Green energy is an area where investment is currently exceeding predictions due to rising energy costs across the world. Additionally, there are several sectors in green energy including solar, wind, hydroelectric and geothermal, that are growing across the world including in the U.S.
“Expanding opportunities for small and underserved producers is a key goal of Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities. Small and underserved producers are facing the impacts of climate change head-on, with limited resources, and have the most to gain from leveraging the growing market demand for agricultural goods produced in a sustainable, climate-smart way. Our goal is to expand markets for climate-smart commodities and ensure that small and underserved producers reap the benefits of these market opportunities,” Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a USDA release.
Remember, money management is a marathon, not a sprint
Any form of money management no matter how big or small takes time. Rome wasn’t built in a day and your financial goals won’t be achieved in a day either. It will take months and maybe even years of you saving, spending frugally, and sacrificing.
If you feel like budgeting and limiting your spending is too hard, remember what the goal is and how far you’ve made it. Also, make it a point to celebrate small milestones on the way to your goal, it’ll keep you motivated to get to the finish line.
Remember this is for your financial future and freedom, so stay positive and keep your goal in mind, because when you finally hit that goal, you’ll realize it wasn’t as hard as it seemed on that first day.