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Finish strong in 2023

Wow! We're in November! Where did the year go? Are you ready for the final stretch of 2023? I'm not sure I am ready, but I'm going to give it everything I've got!

Review Your Goals

How did you do on your goals for 2023? Did you have any goals? Hmmm. Maybe not, but that's okay. You're about to start a new year! I'll share some vision and goal-setting ideas for 2024 later, but for now, focus on 2023.

Check your goals. You've got 48 days to deliver on them! Forty-eight days may not sound like a lot of time, but you'll be amazed at what you can get done if you are laser-focused on something. During your goals review, you may want to reorder them. Just like a debt snowball for your debt, reorder your 2023 goals, putting the ones you think you have the best chance of completing in 2023 at the top of your list and keep stacking them with the ones least likely to be completed at the bottom. This will give you the best chance of completing more of your goals, and it'll take a little of the pressure off of you during the holiday season. A good plan always makes me feel better.

End-of-Year Money Tips

During the holidays, it's easy to get carried away with your spending, but making smart money moves now can set you up for a more secure and prosperous 2024. Let's check out some savvy financial tactics to cap off this year on a high note and position you for a stronger financial future in the coming year.

1. Holiday Spending: The Budgeting Game Plan

We all love spreading cheer during the holidays, but overspending can bring in the new year with financial stress. And, as I discovered later, financing a luxurious Christmas on credit cards only to pay for it six months into the new year is not a good plan. I can't really blame my mom for doing that since I was the recipient of that luxurious Christmas, but if I could step back in time to advise her, I'd probably say something like, "Judy, you do a great job of loving your kids. You don't need to spend all this money you don't have just to give them a bunch of gifts that they won't really take care of and mostly won't remember in 12 months when the next Christmas rolls around." My mom and dad didn't have much growing up. As a result, they spoiled my sister and me way beyond their financial means.

My advice is to craft a budget that fits into a good financial plan that considers your 20-year financial vision and goals, then stick to it. I've found that most people don't have a vision or plan for their finances beyond one month. But if you want a better future, you need a short-term plan that supports your long-term plan. Excessive Christmas spending isn't the right plan.

Save some money. Think of thoughtful, meaningful gifts and experiences that won't break the bank. It's not just about enjoying the season; it's about starting the new year without a financial hangover.

2. Tackle Your Debt: Give Yourself the Gift of Financial Freedom

Consider using some of your year-end resources to tackle your debts. Knocking down those high-interest credit cards or other lingering balances can free up more cash for savings and investments in 2024.

Now more than ever, considering the financial uncertainty, it is important to eliminate debt and set your family up for the leaner times ahead. Virtually every economist is talking about the coming financial downturn, and I agree. 2024 will be challenging for many families across America.

3. Level Up Your Investment Game

As we wrap up 2023, it's a great time to audit your investments. Review your portfolio, did it perform as it should? Sadly, many financial advisors don't do an adequate job supporting their clients with information or guidance. Are you getting the "cookie cutter" investment advice and guidance? If so, look deeper.

Think about diversification, and see where you can boost contributions to retirement accounts. Getting a head start and upping those contributions can seriously beef up your financial health in the long run.

Are you equities and stock marketing heavy? If so, it might be time to explore real estate investing options.

4. Lock in Your Financial Goals for the Next Year

While you're at it, take a moment to jot down your financial goals for 2024. Want to save up for a big-ticket item? Thinking about a new venture? Beefing up that emergency fund? Set some clear goals for your money, and it’ll be like having your own financial GPS for the year ahead.

5. Get Money smart...Dive into Financial Education

Use the tail end of this year to up your financial IQ. Whether it's online courses, books, or a chat with a financial advisor, the more you know, the better your money moves in 2024. A money podcast like The Millionaire Choice, Millionaires Unveiled, or Radical Personal Finance.

I've recently taken online courses from my good friend Jerremy Newsome at Real Life Trading.

6. Get Ahead on Tax Season

Start prepping for tax season. Ugh! I'm miserable just typing that out! Take some time to gather and organize your tax stuff. Think about making any last-minute tax-deductible contributions.

I'm a do-it-yourself guy, but I've learned more recently to lean into my taxes as I've learned more about building wealth. It pains me to know that I've paid over $2,000,000 in taxes that I could have avoided if I'd had good tax advice!

Being ahead of the game come tax time can mean a bigger refund or a lighter hit to your wallet.

7. give your money a purpose in 2024

If someone asked me about the most important thing I've learned about money in the last five years, I'd tell them it's ABSOLUTELY learning to give my money a purpose. What does that mean? That means the reason I work and make money has a purpose: to enjoy life, help others, and serve God.

Enjoy Life. I grew up in a family with limited funds. I generally had the worst bike in the neighborhood, the cheapest shoes, the oldest clothes in school, and so on. We took meager vacations.

Help Others. There's no shortage of people in the world who need help, but there's a shortage of people who have enough money to help and do something about the needs.

  • 1 billion people go hungry on the planet every day. Many of them are in your neighborhood.

  • Over 45 million people are trapped in human trafficking worldwide. 45 million! Did you know that there are more slaves in the world today than at any point in history? Most of them are labor trafficked and live very grueling lives. However, 4.8 million of them are sex trafficked, with the majority of them being women, girls, and boys.

  • There are an estimated 147 million orphans worldwide.

  • 2 billion people worldwide lack access to clean water!

Those are just a few of the big problems facing the world that your money can help solve but don't forget about the people in your community that need help. Single moms, children, families struggling to make ends meet, the elderly, the homeless, and many other needs in your community.

Serve God. What does it mean to serve God with your money? Money is just a tool. It's what we do with it that matters. God doesn't need your money. God wants your heart. When he has your heart and your focus, then he can reveal new wondrous things to you, like wealth.

I won't tell you that if you tithe, you'll get rich. There are a lot of preachers that teach you will. But tithing is part of the formula. If you don't tithe, don't expect God's blessing to fall on your finances, but if you do tithe, it doesn't mean you'll get rich, either. There's more to the equation.

Serving God with your money comes in three parts.

  1. Tithing the first of your increase

  2. Testing when God asks you to do sacrificial giving for different needs. It could be for a missionary, a church need, or another ministry. I've found that as my income and wealth increased, so did the size of the tests that God gave me.

  3. Purpose. This can crossover with helping others, but is on a higher level of commitment. Whereas helping others could often be a one-off event, giving your money a true purpose usually extends deeper, spanning weeks, months, or years. It usually is very missional, like committing money annually to building freshwater wells, fighting human trafficking, or other worthwhile causes.

By reigning in holiday spending, tackling debt, and ramping up investments, you’re basically prepping for a better, healthier, wealthier version of yourself in the coming year. Good luck!

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