Review and Reboot: Level Up Your Saving in 2023
As the year winds down, it’s not only natural but beneficial to look behind you and reminisce about what took place. Maybe you ran that half-marathon or finally planted that garden. Maybe you didn’t. Maybe it was a 5K, and you managed to keep your one houseplant alive. Either way, there will be areas where you excelled and others where you fell short — and chances are, lots of room for improvement in the coming new year.
Could the same strategy apply to spending habits? Could you extend this same kind of examination to your family budget? We asked Kent Herring, a registered investment adviser with Cambridge Investment Research based in Gulf Breeze, for his input.
During his 15 years working in personal finance, he’s encouraged his clients to use the end of the year as an opportunity to review and reboot. It’s even more important now as inflation persists, prompting many families to look more closely at their expenses.
“It’s a great time to review—did you overspend or underspend?” Herring said. “Money in, money out. That budgeting process is more important than it’s ever been.”
This is especially true if you have goals for college savings, debt payoff and retirement savings.
Read on for more tips on how to analyze your family’s spending and find pockets of savings for 2023!
Keep an Eye on the Small Stuff. Herrings advises taking stock of routine activities—such as a daily coffee habit or eating lunch out with co-workers—that might be costing you more than you realize. “The daily little things,” he said. “It’s the $8, $10, $12, $20 that can really get out of hand.” A good place to start is digital spending—app subscriptions you forgot about and cell phone, cable or streaming plans. Even gym memberships could be reduced.
Establish a Rainy-Day Fund. Never discount the importance of having a cushion for emergencies. “The reserve fund is a big deal,” Herring said. “Inevitably, if you don’t have that, you’ll have to dip into your savings or take out a loan.
Make Saving a Habit. Starting small is OK—just make sure you start! And keep doing it regularly until setting aside that money becomes automatic. “Our tendency as people is to think of money in large sums, but building wealth is about saving consistently,” Herring said. “It should be a habit.”
Tie Your Saving to a Meaningful Purpose. It’s smart to have a goal and be able to see the big picture. “Every family has priorities,” Herring said. “The money should have a purpose that guides where it goes and how it’s spent.” If your goal is saving for your child’s college education, start educating yourself about the various investment options. “The key is to start early and young,” Herring said.
As you and your family take a closer look at saving money in 2023, remember two excellent options for securing your child’s college education are the Florida 529 Savings Plan and the Florida 529 Prepaid Plan. These flexible plans can serve your student at one of Florida’s 12 public universities and 28 state colleges or even at an institution out of state.
While the 529 Savings Plan can be used to pay for a wide range of higher education expenses like tuition, fees, computers, and books, the 529 Prepaid Plan is risk-free and makes future tuition costs inflation-proof by locking you into today’s prices. The Plans can also be used to cover the cost of a trade school or technical college.
“With the Prepaid Plan, you take out the inflation risk,” Herring said. “You’ve bought those hours no matter what the cost is in the future.”
Here’s to a new year filled with smarter spending and more saving!