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This year, don't just set goals for your finances. Create a plan to reach them.
That's the lesson from Stacey Tisdale, CEO of financial media firm Mind Money Media and author of "The True Cost of Happiness: The Real Story Behind Managing Your Money. "
"It always starts with goals: Figuring out what your priorities are," said Tisdale. "It is imperative to create a plan for how you are going to generate all of the resources you need."
Here are four areas you ought to pay attention to as you prepare for 2018.
Thanks to rising health costs, stagnant wages and growing levels of debt — especially the $1.4 trillion of student loans borrowers owe — you may need to generate more income just to get by.
Enter the world of freelancing and the gig economy.
"We need to be having different conversations now and in 2018," said Tisdale. "We need to understand that things like 'multiple income streams, side hustles' are becoming necessary for millions of us just to make ends meet."
Just be aware that earning money on the side brings its own obstacles. For instance, you have to maintain good records so that you accurately report your income and pay taxes.
Gig workers are also on their own when it comes to saving for retirement. Fortunately, self-employed individuals can set aside money in a SEP or SIMPLE IRA or a solo 401(k).
"There are so many stigmas around credit card debt, and it's a leading cause of financial stress," said Tisdale. "Just remember: Net worth has nothing to do with self-worth."
As interest rates rise, consumers with credit cards, home equity lines of credit and adjustable rate mortgages will cough up more money each month.
Tisdale recommends working with the National Foundation for Credit Counseling to contend with creditors and develop a debt repayment plan. Further, borrowers with adjustable-rate mortgages may want to consider refinancing to a fixed-rate mortgage to avoid interest-rate spikes.
Learn from 2017's spate of weather and climate disasters.
Review and make sure you have your company's contact information and plan details in an easily accessible location.
Set your bills to autopay so that you don't have to worry about missed payments following an emergency, Tisdale said. You may also want to keep some money on hand.
"We saw many people get stranded last year because ATMs weren't accessible or working," Tisdale said.
The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, the new tax framework that President Donald Trump signed into law 1½ weeks ago, will take effect in the 2018 tax year. Even though you won't see the impact of the new law on your finances until you file in 2019, Tisdale recommends that you get familiar with the new provisions.
Major changes include lower tax rates on individual income, a roughly doubled standard deduction ($12,000 for singles and $24,000 for married couples who file jointly), and sharp limits on a slate of itemized deductions, including a $10,000 cap on the break for state income, sales and property taxes.
"It's a totally new world: State and local deductions have a cap, but the child tax credit has been doubled, " said Tisdale. "This is the year we all need to sit down with our accountants or a tax specialist to understand how the new rules will affect us."
"On the Money" airs on CNBC Saturdays at 5:30 a.m. ET, or check listings for air times in local markets.
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