As the year comes to an end, many people are looking ahead to 2024 and starting to prepare their finances. Yet that’s not always the case for baby boomers and Gen Xers.
According to a recent GOBankingRates survey, younger people are generally more likely to have already started to financially prepare for 2024. In fact, 61% of 18- to 24-year-olds have started, but only 42% of those ages 45-54 have done so. Among Americans between the ages of 55-64, 55% said they had not yet started to financially prepare for 2024, as did 54% of those ages 65 and over.
But if you haven’t started to plan for 2024, it’s not necessarily too late. Consider the following steps to take before the end of 2023.
Review Your Retirement Plan
While you may have some time in early 2024 to make retirement contributions as it pertains to tax year 2023, you still might decide to use this time to make sure your retirement plan is on track.
“Consumers of all ages can benefit from making good money decisions, but baby boomers and Gen X consumers may have different considerations than other generations,” said Rod Griffin, senior director of public education and advocacy at Experian.
“For example, both baby boomers and Gen X consumers are closer to retirement age, so they may be thinking about how to prepare financially for it, especially if it is only a few years away. They’ve likely been saving for years but may need to review their retirement allocations and see if they need to make any adjustments,” he added.
Review Your Expenses, Including Debt
Before the end of the year, you can also review your expenses and plans to pay off debt, especially if you want to make sure these align with your retirement plan. If you’re spending too much now, it could be harder to afford retirement, especially if your income drops once you stop getting a paycheck.
It’s a good idea for baby boomers and Gen Xers “to start reducing expenses, creating or adjusting their budgets and avoiding taking on additional debt. If they have debt, they should make a plan to start paying it off,” said Griffin.
Check Your Credit Reports and Credit Scores
You might assume you have good credit, but it can still be helpful to review your credit reports and scores to make sure you’re on the right track heading into 2024. You might spot errors, for example, or identify a need to lower your credit card balances. Tackling these issues now can help baby boomers and Gen Xers in the coming years.
“Even though retirement does not affect credit scores directly, continuing to practice good financial management is critical to ensure they have access to affordable credit down the road if they should need it, as well as the best terms and conditions for credit cards, loans, insurance and more,” said Griffin.
Conduct a Financial Audit
Lastly, try to bring everything together by conducting a financial audit so that you know where you stand heading into the new year. Doing so might overlap with some of the aforementioned areas, but you probably want to make sure you’re not missing any areas, like a seldom-used bank account or credit card.
“Consumers should try their best to stay knowledgeable of where they stand financially throughout the year,” said Griffin. “However, it can be helpful to complete a financial audit when thinking through their money plans for the new year to decide what needs to be addressed first.”
“This means reviewing all their banking and financial statements to calculate their spending, savings, debt and other financial obligations. They should then make a plan based on what they find. If they have no debt but also very little savings, they might consider allocating more money to savings. If they have debt across multiple credit cards, they should put together a plan to pay it off,” he added.
Overall, financially planning ahead for 2024 doesn’t have to be overly complicated. But while the end of one year and the start of a new one can be a good reminder to make sure you’re on the path you want to be on, don’t feel like this is your only opportunity.
“A new year is a natural starting point for many looking to set new financial goals,” said Griffin. “However, there is no reason people can’t start today if they have the means. Consumers should worry less about what time of year it is and more about what steps they need to take in order to better position themselves financially.”
Methodology: GOBankingRates surveyed 1,021 Americans aged 18 and older from across the country between Oct. 12 and Oct. 16, 2023, asking twenty-three different questions: (1) How much did you spend on your pet in the last year?; (2) How much have you spent/are you planning to spend on Halloween this year?; (3) How much money do you spend on kid-related activities in a year?; (4) How much do you spend on average on your monthly utility bills (electric, heat/gas, water)?; (5) What spending/saving habits have you had to change in the last year due to inflation/rising prices? (select all that apply); (6) What was the biggest unexpected expense you had this year?; (7) How much do you currently spend on monthly car payments?; (8) Do you live in a single-income or dual-income household?; (9) In the past year, did you have to take on a side gig because of rising prices/inflation?; (10) How much do you bring home from your side job(s) each month?; (11) How much have your overall expenses gone up in the past year?; (12) What is your top financial priorities to end 2023?; (13) What is the top way you’ve earned your money/gained wealth?; (14) Have you started financially preparing for 2024?; (15) How much have you spent on home upgrades in 2023?; (16) How will the resumption of student loan repayments affect your budget?; (17) How much do you currently owe in student loans?; (18) How much do you spend on yourself (not including housing, food, etc.) out of each paycheck?; (19) How much do you spend on online purchases per month?; (20) Where do you shop for groceries most often?; (21) Do you shop around for groceries to get better deals?; (22) What are you currently invested in? (Select all that apply); and (23) What is the current value of your stock investments?. GOBankingRates used PureSpectrum’s survey platform to conduct the poll.
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