Financial Blog from your Chief Financial Officer

Feb 06


The original item was published from January 28, 2020 6:47 PM to February 6, 2020 6:43 PM


by Susan Gooding-Liburd, CFO
2020 Finance Image

As we further into 2020, you may be excited about what the year holds for you.  I want you to know that you hold the key to determine what 2020 will bring you.  Are you going to get the same results you have being getting for the past year again, I say NO!  It begins with you, but you must realize that you need to do something different, you need to change in order to get the new results you need.  Okay, I will help you get started by reviewing this financial checklist with you and knowing you will put these steps in place to see the change you want to experience.  I have spoken to many individuals that wished someone gave them this information years ago.

Here we go!  I am a little nerdy when it comes to setting financial goals, it’s my passion to assist everyone to become financially independent.  Don’t be afraid of getting your financial health in order (I know it may be something you don’t want to tackle at all; you may see it as a big monster, but I am here to tell you that you can bring that big scary monster down to a little ant and take control of it).



  • Set your financial goals and career goals.  In setting your goals (financial or career wise) you must have specific action steps and a concrete plan.  Goals must be clearly defined and be written down.
    • Okay, here are some simple steps to goal setting, you must be SMART about your goals to be able to achieve them.  Be;
      • S – Specific (What exactly will you do?)
      • M – Measurable (How will you know if you did it?)
      • A – Attainable (Can you do this?)
      • R – Realistic/Relevant (Can you do this?)
      • T - Time based (Can you do it in the time you set?)

  • Make sure paying yourself first (saving) is in your financial plans.
  • Establish your budget (bi-weekly or monthly) for the year.
  • Retirement planning review if you are five or less years away from transitioning into your next career.  If you are just starting your career it helps to start to plan early, it will make the difference between a successful retirement or an unsuccessful retirement.
  • Review your W4 to see if you need to make any adjustments.
  • File your taxes and have a plan for the refund you may be receiving.
    • If you are not going to receive a refund, then make the appropriate payment arrangements.


  • Review any major expense that is intended for the year (i.e.) buy a house, car, etc. Plan accordingly for those major purchases.
  • Get your credit report/score.
  • Calculate your net worth.
    • Net worth is your assets (things that put money in your pocket) minus liabilities (things that take money out of your pocket), the difference can either be positive or negative.  The goal is to increase this difference every year.
    • Example: Asset $100,000.  Liabilities 80,000.  Net worth equals $20,000.


  • Review your budget.  Is it working for you? (remember it’s your budget and you are the master of your money, you tell your money what to do, not the other way around) However, make sure you are on track with it.
  • Celebrate a little if you are working your plans and seeing the results.  If not, this is a good time to re-evaluate.


  • Re-Evaluate goals.
  • Increase your saving amount or your contribution to your 401K, 457 or other retirement plans.
  • If you have not filed your taxes for 2019, please do so to avoid any penalties.
  •  If you have not seriously start planning for your departure from your job/work (retirement, changing your position, starting a business, etc.), consider setting major life milestones you expect to accomplish at different ages.
  • Attend all the Financial Literacy education the City will have during “Money Smart Month”.
    • April is financial literacy month stay turned for seminar coming to a location near you.

5. MAY

  • Spend your refund wisely.
  • Adjust tax withholding.
  • Evaluate your non-mortgage debt (i.e. credit card, personal loans…) and come up with a plan to pay them down.


  • Read a book, listen to a YouTube video or download a personal finance e-book and play it every day in your car as you drive to and from work.
  • De-clutter your life, do some spring cleaning.
    • By de-cluttering your closets, wardrobe, garage, anything you don’t use any more, hold a garage sale or sell it on e-bay.  Doing this can net you a few dollars.
    • Take a bag or box to the thrift store or sell them to a consignment store.
      • Whatever you cannot sell then give them away (donate).


  • Re-evaluate goals.
  • Increase your savings amount.  For those in their 40’s this is the decade to really make a significant impact toward your long-term goals.  If you are in your 50’s, that will also be a perfect time to take advantage of the “catch-up contribution” tax-deferred dollars you could put towards your retirement.
    • Remember your short-term goals will differ from your long-term goals regarding your saving, investing and building your overall wealth.


  • Do a 30-day money challenge to start a new spending habit or just to save extra money.  Examples:
    • No spending for 30 days
      • Find free fun
    • Use coupons to do all your shopping (groceries, clothes, shoes, etc.)
    • Take your lunch to work instead of eating out
    • Set a saving goal for the month
    • Track your spending (every single day write down what you spend)
    • No name brand shopping (buy store brand)
    • Sell 5 things
    • Negotiate bills
  • Reduce your debt.
  • Review your employee benefits to get ready for open enrollment.
    • Review all medical expenses to make sure you have been reimbursed.


  • Review insurance policies.  Examples:
    • Auto policy, shop around for lower rates or change deductible amount
    • Term Life policy, is it still applicable for me and my family?
    •  Health insurance, is it affordable for me?  Is it time to switch to Medicare?
    • Long-term disability insurance, do I need it?  Do I have enough?
    • Long Term Care insurance – it is cheaper to get it when you are younger.
  • National Life insurance Awareness Month allow you to do a financial checkup on your life.
  • Shop around for better banking services on your personal accounts.
  • I don’t recommend credit cards, but this is an excellent time to go shopping for better ones (5% rewards).


  • Re-evaluate goals
  • Increase saving amounts especially if you received a pay increase.
  • Plan your doctor and dentist visits;
    • If you have already met your deductible requirements, then take advantage of your insurance coverage before next year deductibles reset.


  • Open enrollment time-Health expenses.
  • Review beneficiaries form.
  • Review your voluntary deductions to see if they still align with your family plans.


  • Re-balance your portfolio.
  • Give to a charity;
    • You can take tax deduction for donation made to 501c3 organizations.
  • Use up flexible spending account, the funds may be expiring at the end of the year.
  • Pay your January mortgage in December, this will allow you to deduct mortgage interest paid against next January in the current year.
  • Review beneficiary form
  • Cancel unused or underutilized subscriptions, memberships, and services.

New Year, New Decade and NEW thinking!  Let’s get better results for 2020, I have set up this financial calendar for everyone to use, please adjust as you see fit.  Set up a calendar plan to remind yourself of these To-do activities.  Set up alerts at the beginning of each month as a reminder.  Take Action!  Without action your plans and goals a just smoke screens, follow through and preserve to the end you will be better off for doing it.

This may seem overwhelming to you; please remember I am here to help you map out your goals and to do it in a manner you can handle so it is not overbearing.  The key is “baby steps” and perseverance.  Again, I want to encourage you to reach out to me if any assistance is needed.  Stay tuned for next edition where you will learn Goal Setting techniques.