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Plan now for a financially secure 2017

We are in the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, and 2016 is about to come to a close.

cygan_skeels_donna_sigWould you like to experience financial security in 2017? Are there changes you want to make to your finances? Now is the time to start planning for the new year.

During the last two weeks of December I encourage you to ponder the changes you would like to make in the new year. Would you like to spend less and save more? Would you like to pay off the balance on your credit cards?

Perhaps you would like to stop worrying about money, or maybe you want to start contributing to a charity to help persons who are less fortunate. Would you like to reduce your possessions and simplify your life? Would you like to open a Roth IRA? Would you like to calculate your net worth and watch it grow each year?

Would you like to become more savvy about financial matters? Perhaps you would like to educate your kids or grandkids about money. Would you like to feel like you are controlling your money, rather than allowing it to control you?

I encourage you to plan now to make small financial changes in the new year. Perhaps you want to save more in 2017. I’ll be providing tips on how to make saving automatic in the upcoming January article. If you don’t have a Roth IRA (and you qualify for one) I’ll be urging you to open a Roth IRA in the new year. We’ll cover lots of topics pertaining to financial security.

Research by Dr. Gail Matthews of the Dominican University of California concluded that if we write down our goals we are 40 percent more likely to achieve them than if we do not write them down. Furthermore, if we write them down and send progress reports to a friend, we are 77 percent more likely to achieve our goals. Accountability works, so pairing up with a friend to nudge each other toward your goals reaps rewards.

Having a healthier attitude toward money may be one of your goals. Our society places money on a high pedestal, and it holds tremendous power. The message we hear subconsciously is spend, spend, spend! Credit cards encourage us to reinforce immediate gratification.

Perhaps we need to say “enough!” and fight back against the pressure to keep up with the Joneses. After all, a rich life is not contingent upon the size of a person’s investment account. A truly rich life is based on strong relationships with friends and family, giving back to our community, expressing ourselves creatively, leading healthy yet simple lifestyles, and spending money in a way that is in alignment with our values.

So, before the clock strikes midnight on Dec. 31, 2016, take a few quiet moments to write down your goals for 2017. Set one or two financial goals and one or two personal goals. Ponder what you would like to accomplish in the new year. Keep it small, and keep it simple. Happy New Year!

Donna Skeels Cygan, CFP, MBA, is the author of “The Joy of Financial Security.” She has been the owner of her own firm in Albuquerque for 18 years. Visit



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