Benchmarking Your 2024 Financial Resolutions

As we are now approaching the mid-point of the year, it’s prime time to reevaluate our financial strategies and benchmark our financial goals and resolutions we set earlier in the year. In this blog post, we’ll break down straightforward and actionable financial resolutions you can set if you have yet to set goals, and also the importance of re-visiting the progress of your goals set at the start of the year. So, let’s dive in.

For those of you who have yet to set financial resolutions or goals for 2024, there is no time like the present! Let’s explore some financial goals and tasks you can set for yourself from here on out.

  1. Audit Your Finances: Start by taking both a macro and micro level view at your current financial situation. Examine your income, cash flows, budget, expenses, debts, and savings to identify areas that need to be revisited for improvement or evaluation.
  2. Build a Realistic Budget: Craft or tweak a budget that aligns with your lifestyle. Track your income and allocate funds for necessary expenses, savings, and discretionary spending. Regularly review and adjust your budget to accommodate any changes. Spring calls for a great time of year to revisit your spending in the first half of the year and can help you adjust accordingly.
  3. Emergency Fund Priority: Establish or reinforce your emergency fund. Come up with a value as a goal that is comfortable for you and your family in an emergency scenario. This financial cushion will provide security in unforeseen circumstances, such as job loss or unexpected bills.
  4. Tackle High-Interest Debts: If you have outstanding debts, create a practical plan to reduce and eliminate them. Prioritize high-interest debts while making consistent payments on all obligations.
  5. Diversify Your Portfolio: Explore and ensure that your investment portfolio and allocation match your risk tolerance and long-term goals. Seeking advice from a financial advisor can help optimize your investment strategy and align all your goals.
  6. Adjust For Retirement: Contribution limits for retirement accounts increased for 2024, so adjust your retirement contribution accordingly and ensure you are contributing regularly or are on pace to reach your retirement goal for the year. Adjust your investment allocation based on your age and risk tolerance, ensuring your portfolio is positioned for long-term growth.
  7. Boost Financial Literacy: Financial literacy month just passed in April, so dedicate time to expanding your financial knowledge. Stay informed about personal finance strategies, investment trends, and economic developments.
  8. Regularly Review and Adjust: Recognize that financial circumstances change. Schedule regular check-ins to assess your progress and make adjustments as needed. Flexibility and accountability ensures your financial resolutions remain practical and achievable.
  9. Acknowledge Wins and Learn from Setbacks: Celebrate your financial victories, no matter how small. Treat setbacks as learning experiences. Adjust your strategy when necessary and use challenges as motivation to stay focused on your financial goals.

While these are some great resolutions to work on or towards, for those of you who’ve already set your financial goals for the year, now is a great time to assess and analyze your progress. Are you saving less monthly than you’d hope for in January 2024? If so, revisit your budget to ensure accuracy and accountability. Revisiting your financial plan and strategy frequently can help you stay on course and reach your financial goals by year end. I

In 2024, commit to practical and achievable financial goals. By implementing these straightforward resolutions and revisiting them regularly, you’ll be better positioned to strengthen your financial foundation and navigate the rest of the year with confidence. If you have any questions or are seeking a financial check-in/tune-up, schedule a complimentary intro call here or email

Navigating Lifestyle Creep in 2024

As financial advisors, one of the common challenges we observe among individuals is the phenomenon of lifestyle creep. This gradual increase in spending as income rises can have a significant impact on long-term financial goals. In this blog, we’ll take a look into what lifestyle creep is, its implications, and practical tips on how you can monitor, revisit, and tweak your budget to ensure you are maximizing your wealth and financial opportunities.

So what is life style creep? Lifestyle creep, also known as lifestyle inflation, occurs when individuals increase their spending in tandem with their income. It often starts with small indulgences and luxuries that become regular expenses over time. While it’s important to always pay yourself first and celebrate the wins, it’s important to be cognizant of lifestyle creep and the potential hindrance it can have on your financial journey.

So what are some implications of lifestyle creep? Well, it can lead to reduced savings, because increased spending on non-essential items can lead to a decline in savings rates. This, in turn, affects the ability to build an emergency fund or contribute to retirement accounts. Next is debt accumulation. Lifestyle creep can contribute to the accumulation of debt as individuals finance their upgraded lifestyle through loans or credit cards. Lastly, the long-term impact of lifestyle creep is felt in delayed or compromised financial goals, such as buying a home, funding education, or achieving a comfortable retirement. Make sure that lifestyle creep is not impacting your longer term financial goals.

So while we talked about the negatives associated with lifestyle creep, let’s discuss tips for monitoring and revisiting your budget:

  1. Regular Financial Check Ins
  2. Prioritize Your Emergency Fund
  3. Automate Your Savings
  4. Mindful Spending
  5. Goal-Based Budgeting
  6. Re-Evaluate Regularly

Incorporating these smart financial habits into your daily life can help avoid impeding lifestyle creep. Lifestyle creep is a subtle but powerful force that can often times hinder your financial stability and path. As a financial advisor, guiding clients to monitor, revisit, and tweak their budgets is a crucial aspect of fostering and maintaining a healthy financial life. By instilling mindful spending habits, being accountable, and aligning lifestyle choices with long-term goals, you can stay on the path to financial success. If you have any questions or are seeking guidance on your budget for 2024, email or schedule a complimentary intro call here.

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How Spending Habits Have Evolved in a High-Interest Rate Environment

Over the last few years individuals worldwide have found themselves needing to adapt to a rapidly ever changing economic landscape. In recent months, the consumer has needed to adjust to a higher interest rate environment due to inflation and a higher cost of living, prompting a significant shift in spending habits. One noteworthy transformation seen in more recent months is the decline in demand on home buying, as mortgage rates reach unprecedented highs. Let’s explore the impact inflation and rising interest rates is having on consumer spending.

As mentioned above, one of the large reconsiderations we have seen in consumer spending is homeownership. “With mortgage rates near 8% and average home prices hitting record highs, sales of existing homes were down 15.4% year-over-year in September”, according to the National Association of Realtors. Typical home buyers are now straying away from the real estate market and allocating those funds towards different goals, such as rent and education. For example, according to data firm ISS Market Intelligence, “There was a 15% increase in the number of new 529 college savings accounts opened in the third quarter from a year ago”. Homebuyers who either purchased or refinanced during the COVID-19 low interest rate era are now also realizing how expensive it would be to move or relocate rather than undergo a home improvement or renovation.

As the economic landscape continues to change, so do the goals of the consumer. While your goals may remain the same, many individuals are revisiting the importance and timeline of their goals, to better align with the current environment. So, one goal the consumer is starting to redirect their spending to in this environment is travel. Whether individuals missed out on travel during the pandemic or are now putting off their future home purchase, studied are showing that the consumer is redirecting their funds towards experiences rather than assets. The concept of “experiential spending” is gaining traction, with people allocating money towards travel, education, and enriching activities.

With interest rates at elevated levels, individuals are also becoming more strategic in managing their debt, becoming more conscious about variable interest rate debt, while maximizing interest earned on savings. Student loan payments came back online in October, adding another payment that was gone for quite some time back into the budget. These changes to the budget are having an impact on where the next incremental dollar is going.

In the face of higher interest rates, inflation, and an increased cost of living, individuals are reshaping their spending habits and financial strategies. The traditional notion of homeownership is being reevaluated, with a shift towards experiential spending, prudent debt management, and tighter budgets. As the economic landscape continues to evolve, adaptability will be crucial for individuals seeking to navigate these ever-changing environments successfully. If you have any questions on your spending habits or budget or would like to set up complimentary intro call, email or click here.

How Much Cash To Have in Savings: An Art & Science

In today’s ever-changing financial landscape, determining how much savings you should have is not a one-size-fits-all answer. It’s both an art and a science, and is highly specific to your personal financial situation and influenced by various factors in your life, such as job security, interest rates, financial goals, economic conditions, and more. We want to discuss this question we get from tons of clients and prospects: How much cash should I have in my savings account? So, let’s take a look at some considerations to think about when answering this question and determining your savings strategy.   

Personalized Approach:

Your financial goals, obligations, and risk tolerance all play a crucial role in determining the ideal amount to keep in savings your savings account. As mentioned above, the security of your job and consistency/variability of your income plays a large role in this answer. For example, if your income is variable and inconsistent, you might think about keeping more liquid cash on hand due to the variability of your payments. Additionally, if you have other financial goals you are working towards, you may or may not be allocating more funds to your savings account, and rather other places or goals. So, remember that your savings approach should be personalized and unique to your situation- do not look to others for their strategy, and rather work with a financial professional to help sift thru your personal situation and goals to establish your approach.

Consider & Maximize Interest Rates:

As we have been discussing for quite some time, interest rates on savings account have spiked over the last year or so, with high-yield savings accounts and certificates of deposits (CDs) now paying close to the 5% range or higher on cash. This higher interest rate environment is impacting the way consumers are thinking about cash within their overall investment portfolio. While keeping cash in a savings account or checking account, ensure that you’re maximizing the interest you earn. Shop around for the best interest rates and consider high-yield savings accounts or CDs that offer better returns on your money.

Take Your Budget Into Account:

As the consumer is continuing to adjust to this inflationary environment and a higher cost of living, many are tweaking their budgets. With student loan payments returning this month after a three year pause, you may be feeling a bit tighter on your monthly spending to accommodate this financial obligation. Revisit your budget frequently and ensure you are allocating some of your income to your cash savings so you aren’t sacrificing your savings goal.

Include Your Emergency Fund:

Among your cash savings should be your emergency fund, which serves as your cash reserve in the event of an emergency and is essential for unforeseen expenses or financial crises. A common rule of thumb is to have at least three to six months’ worth of living expenses in this fund. However, similarly to what we have described above, the exact amount should be tailored to your individual circumstances and comfort level. Your financial well-being is not just about numbers; it’s also about peace of mind. Consider what makes you feel comfortable. If you’re uneasy about having too much cash on hand, explore alternative options like investments or paying down debt to optimize your financial situation. Conversely, if you feel that you are too short on cash, consider hunkering down and building up your cash reserve.

So, in conclusion, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer to the question of how much savings you should have. Your personal financial situation, risk tolerance, and goals will guide your savings strategy. Work with a financial professional to determine the right balance of cash savings, investments, and debt management. Continue to keep up with economic conditions and interest rates to ensure that your money is working for you. Most importantly, find a strategy that provides you and your famliy financial security and peace of mind. If you are seeking help determining the right amount for your savings reserve, email or schedule a complimentary intro call here.

Here’s How To Craft Your Family Budget

There are several key components that make up a comprehensive financial plan. One topic we’ve been helping many clients navigate within this economic environment is faimly budgeting. Your budget is a crucial and everyday tool in your financial toolkit. It’s the tool that can help you get and stay organized, enabling you to reach your goals and reduce the stress often associated with money. We always say, crafting the perfect budget is both an art and a science, one that requires refining and ongoing effort. In this blog, we will explore some tips and a few vital steps involved in creating a budget that’s not only effective but also adaptable to your personal financial journey.

1. Research: Track Your Spending for a Few Months To Confirm Accuracy  

One of the most common issues we see with familys’ budget’s is accuracy. While putting together a budget is great in any circumstance, making sure that it actually reflects your spending is extremely important. So, understanding your financial habits and spending is the first step in creating a budget that works. Over a few months, meticulously track every expenditure, categorizing them into necessities and discretionary spending. This process reveals where your money is going and provides the foundation for your budget

2. Calculate Your Income and Cash Inflows/Outflows

Once your spending is successfully tracked, it’s time to create your financial baseline by calculating your total monthly income, incorporating all sources of cash inflow, whether from your regular job, side hustles, or investments. Create a detailed list of your monthly expenses, encompassing both fixed costs (e.g., rent/mortgage, utilities, insurance) and variable expenses (e.g., groceries, dining out, entertainment). This step should allow you to see everything in one page and help you pinpoint where your budget needs help.

3. Set Realistic Goals 

As part of any financial plan, establish clear financial goals so you can utilize your budget as a roadmap to achieve them. Whether you’re saving for a major life event, paying down debt, or building an emergency fund, your goals will drive your budget. Allocate a specific percentage of your income to each spending category in a way that prioritizes your goals but also most importantly comfortably provides for your essential needs.

4. Adjust Your Spending to Stay on Budget

As time goes on, make sure you’re regularly assessing your spending patterns and referring back to your budget. Adjust your spending to align with your cash inflows and income. If you pinpoint an area that is not working in the budget and leaving you with no money at the end of each month, be proactive and make a plan to eliminate or tweak costs within the budget. Ensure that your needs take precedence over your wants to maintain financial stability.

5. Review Your Budget Regularly for Continuous Improvement

A budget is a living spreadsheet that should evolve and grow with your life’s changing circumstances. Consistently review your budget to ensure its current and most importantly, accurate. Track your expenses, compare them to your budget, and make conscious spending decisions. Accountability is the key to achieving the financial goals you are setting out to achieve.

We know that creating a budget can be overwhelming, time consuming, and maybe even stressful. It’s not a one-time task but an ongoing process that can significantly improve your financial well-being. By tracking your spending, calculating your income, setting achievable goals, and regularly reviewing your budget, you’ll build a financial roadmap that will allow you to live your life comfortable, get organized, and reduce some stress that often is related to finances.

As we said, given the current economic environment with higher interest rates, inflation, and a rising cost of living, now more than ever it’s crucial to work on your budget. If you need help tweaking and making adjustments to your budget, we are here and happy to help. Email or schedule a complimentary intro call here.

Building Smart and Positive Financial Habits

Financial habits play a pivotal role in shaping our financial future. Whether you’re striving for financial stability, planning for retirement, or aiming for financial freedom, cultivating smart and positive financial habits is essential. In this blog, we’ll explore practical steps to help you develop these habits and set yourself on a path to financial success.

  1. Create a Budget

The cornerstone of any solid financial plan is a well-defined budget. Start by tracking your income and expenses. Knowing exactly where your money goes allows you to make informed decisions. Allocate a portion of your income for essentials like housing, groceries, and bills, and set aside some for savings and discretionary spending. Stick to your budget to avoid overspending and accumulate savings over time.

  1. Build an Emergency Fund

Life is unpredictable, and unexpected expenses can throw your finances off balance. To prepare for such situations, establish an emergency fund that is comfortable in the event of an emergency. Having this cushion ensures you won’t need to rely on credit cards or loans when emergencies arise.

  1. Set Financial Goals

Setting clear financial goals gives you a sense of direction. Whether it’s buying a home, paying off debt, or saving for a dream vacation, having specific goals helps you stay motivated and focused. Break these goals into smaller, manageable milestones, and celebrate your achievements along the way.

  1. Automate Savings and Investments

Make saving and investing a habit by automating the process. Set up automatic transfers from your checking account to your savings or investment accounts. This “pay yourself first” approach ensures that you prioritize saving before spending, making it easier to stick to your financial goals.

  1. Pay Off Debt Strategically

High-interest debt can be a significant drain on your finances. Develop a plan to pay off your debts strategically. Start by paying down debts with the highest interest rates while making minimum payments on others. As you eliminate each debt, redirect those payments to the next one.

6. Educate Yourself

Financial literacy is a powerful tool for making informed decisions. Take the time to educate yourself about personal finance. Read books, follow reputable financial blogs, and consider taking courses or seeking advice from financial professionals. The more you know, the better equipped you’ll be to manage your money wisely.

7. Review and Adjust Regularly

Your financial situation is likely to change over time. Make it a habit to review your budget, goals, and financial plans regularly. Adjust your strategies as needed to accommodate life changes, such as a new job, marriage, or the birth of a child.

Developing smart and positive financial habits is a journey that can lead to financial security and peace of mind. By creating a budget, building an emergency fund, setting clear goals, automating savings, paying off debt, educating yourself, and regularly reviewing your finances, you can take control of your financial future. If you have any questions or are seeking an accountability partner, email or schedule a complimentary introductory call here.

Do You Know What Interest Rates You Are Paying On Your Credit Cards?

As inflation continues to rise and be top of mind for the average household, we want to continue discussing how it is affecting our daily life and how to navigate this adjustment. Prices of nearly everything have been skyrocketing over the last few months, and the most recent November CPI report announced a 7.1% year over year increase. This year we have seen inflation levels the highest they’ve been in four decades, so it’s certainly making an impact on the wallets of individuals. In fact, according to Moody’s Analytics analysis, inflation is costing the average American household an additional $327 per month. 

So, as Americans face new and higher costs that impact their monthly and yearly budget, it is likely many will begin to cut back on their typical spending habits. The following tweet from Liz Ann Sonders shows that ~84% of Americans are expecting to slash their spending to account for inflation. Have you adjusted your budget for inflation? Many retailers have been reporting surpluses of inventory and less holiday shopping as well, so if you have changed some aspects of your spending, you are certainly not alone.

While we are discussing the strains inflation is inflicting on the households of many, we want to touch on another interesting point that many individuals may overlook. Are you aware of the interest rates you are paying on your variable interest rate debt? With the Federal Reserve raising interest rates and set to announce their next hike this afternoon, it’s important that you know what the current rates are on your credit cards and lines of credit? So many individuals are carrying credit card debt and do not make it their number one priority to pay it down. According to Bankrate, on 12/07, variable credit interest rates were as high at 19.40%, which may only rise more as the Fed plans to continually hike rates in order to combat inflation.

If you are carrying credit card debt, make sure you are aware of the interest rates each of these debts incur. You should be attempting to pay your debt with the highest interest rates down first so that you aren’t continuing to pay an excess amount in interest each month. Start thinking more about the interest rates you are currently tied to and your finances as a whole. If you happen to carry a balance or want to protect against future rate increases if you have an unforeseen big purchase, take advantage of those 0% interest rate credit cards offers if you can. However, only spend what you can afford within your budget.’

Additionally, as we just saw November’s inflation data come in lighter than expected, maybe that’s a sign that the Fed’s hikes have been effective and future interest rate hikes may begin to slow, in which case you can re-evaluate your rates as they begin to go back down. So, an important lesson is to pay attention to what debt you have, the interest rates you are paying, and how the economy applies to your financial situation. Setting up a plan to pay off your debts in a timely manner will be extremely advantageous to you and your finances in the long run. If you would like to discuss budgeting strategies or have questions about your interest rates, email us at or schedule a complimentary intro call here

Are Date Nights Becoming Too Expensive During This Inflationary Period?

As we’ve been adjusting to this new economic environment with not only rising prices but also interest rates, are you feeling the impacts of inflation and a higher cost of living? If so, what has become more expensive within your daily life and budget? Groceries? Gas? Dinner dates? Over the last few months we’ve been following consumer sentiment and speaking with many clients and individuals who feel that their confidence about the economy and spending money is rapidly decreasing. 

As you can see in the YChart above, look at how much consumer sentiment has dropped in just 5 years, noting that where they are right now is even below the lows in March of 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic began. If you are feeling anxious about your spending habits during this time, you are not alone. “In fact, 22% of millennials (ages 26 to 41) and 19% of Gen Zers (ages 18 to 25) have gone into debt from what they’ve spent on dating, according to a September Lendingtree survey.” LendingTree Chief Credit Analyst Matt Schulz said in the report that all costs are rising and “everything is getting more expensive. It’s not just the new clothes, roses, ride-share, fancy dinner, concerts or the after-show coffee — it’s all of it.” We found this statistic very interesting, not only due to inflation making everything more expensive, but also an opportunity to discuss money within a relationship.

At Sherman Wealth, we are constantly talking about transparency and open communication as it relates to money in a relationship. If you are feeling the extra weight of more expensive date nights, communicate with your partner to let them know and be honest about your budget and means. Additionally, most importantly, now is a great time to revisit your budget, especially with a higher-cost-of-living, to make sure that it still works for you and you are not compromising your other goals such as retirement or saving for a big purchase.

We know that what you can and cannot afford may look a bit different now as we adjust to this rising interest rate and inflationary environment, but it’s important to put your finances first. Create or revisit your financial plan to ensure that you can still achieve your financial goals and dreams.  If you have any questions about your financial plan or budgeting, email us at or schedule a complimentary 30-minute call here


Inflation Hits a 4-Decade High. Are You Feeling The Impacts?

New inflation data was released that reported a CPI increase of 8.6%, marking a 4-decade high. According to the WSJ, prices for energy jumped 34.6% from a year earlier and groceries increased 11.9% on the year. This rise was largely attributed to rising energy and food prices, which we have been tracking for a few months now. So are you feeling the impacts of inflation and rising prices? We certainly are. Have you altered your spending and summer plans? Restaurants have even begun adding additional fees on the bottom of bills for a “non-cash adjustment,” “fuel surcharge,” or “kitchen appreciation”. Have you noticed this?

As you can see from the tweets above, CPI numbers are skyrocketing. We will continue to watch inflation data and its impact on the economy and markets. If you are feeling the impacts of rising prices, now might be a good time to revisit your budget and financial plan as a whole. If you have any questions for us, email at or schedule a complimentary intro call here.

What To Do With Money You Need In The Short Term

There are always lots of money management questions when it comes to investing and saving. Both of these actions are crucial in building your wealth and are stepping stones to reaching your financial goals. One common question we typically get asked by prospects and clients is, “What should I do with money that I will need in the near future?”. This is a great question, because while there is no one right answer due to the fact that everyone’s financial situation differs, there are a few financial tips we can discuss.

Typically, money you will need in the near future is for a large purchase or goal, or an emergency fund you like to keep at arm’s length. Regardless of the reason, for dollars you don’t want to invest for the long-term, think about opening a high-yield savings account. 

High-yield saving accounts differ from traditional saving accounts as they provide significantly higher interest rates, allowing you to earn more money and keep pace with inflation. Your traditional savings account is probably earning you close to zero each month, whereas some high-yield savings accounts are offering rates close to 1%.

The process of opening this type of account is extremely simple, and will only require a few clicks on your computer. So why not make this easy change and take advantage of this great opportunity? While there are other options available when thinking about investing your money for the short-term, high-yield savings accounts are a great start. Click here for CNBC’s top pick’s for high-yield savings accounts and let us know if you have any questions about your particular financial situation. As mentioned earlier, since everyone’s financial goals, priorities, and backgrounds are different, it’s always a good idea to speak with a financial professional about how to make the best decisions for you and your family. If you have any questions for us or want to schedule a complimentary 30-minute consultation, book some time now