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The past few years have caught many people unprepared—for prolonged financial hardship, a continuing bull market, rising inflation.
We wanted to know what Wall Street Journal readers are doing to prepare for the new year on money matters, so we asked them about their personal-finance goals and the steps they are taking to accomplish them.
Here are some of their plans.
A habit, not a chore
As a 20-year-old college student and personal-finance advocate, in 2022 I’m eager to continue contributing the max to my Roth IRA to take advantage of compounding, the eighth wonder of the world. Also, I will diversify my passive income sources, emphasize the importance of planning for the worst, hoping for the best by having at least 20% of my portfolio in cash, and—most important—continue to invest in myself outside of the classroom to help fuel my investment returns and mind-set, my most precious asset.
Since time in the markets beats timing the market, my goals are built around the concept of time and work together. This year, I would like to work on encompassing them into my lifestyle, to develop them as a habit, not simply a chore or task. Through this, I hope to inspire my fellow students on campus to get started sooner rather than later and to not rely on the institutionalized education system with no mainstream financial-literacy curriculum. Let’s break the money taboo and enjoy the portfolio process in 2022. It shouldn’t feel daunting when we are in full control and have all available resources by the click of a button in this day and age!
—Mia Gradelski, New York
More income and stay thrifty
Finding—and succeeding in—a better-paying job, while keeping household expenditures at current thrifty levels. Continuing to increase my retirement savings contributions using dollar-cost averaging, and making additional principal payments toward our home loan.
—Ronald L. Bensley Jr., Renton, Wash.
Ready for a correction
My wife and I are both in our 50s, so unless there’s a surprise sale on beachfront properties, we don’t expect to tap into our nest egg for another 10-plus years.
In 2022, given the multiples in the market and the promise of the Fed to raise rates, we’re trying to stay ready for a correction without just cashing out of equities and heading for the financial bunker.
Challenge is, given inflation, holding liquidity in traditional no-risk assets is expensive. Not only do we miss out on further market appreciation, but inflation also chips away at it, resulting in negative real returns.
So this year, for the first time, we’re moving more liquidity into TIPS [Treasury inflation-protected securities] to mitigate the impact of inflation.
If a correction comes, we’ll be licking our wounds like everybody else with our equity portfolio, but we’ll also be able to shop at the discounted, “sale” prices available on growth names by selling the TIPS to rebalance.
And should inflation continue to grow without a correction materializing, the hope is that our TIPS portfolio will at least keep pace.
—Tom Pontes, Boston
A ladder to retirement
I’m less than 10 years from retirement, so I regularly rebalance my investments and move money from stocks and mutual funds to cash. For 2022, I plan to use some of that cash to pay off my house loan. As interest rates rise, I will use money from cash and money funds to start building CD and bond ladders at higher yields that will eventually fund my retirement.
—Richard Weimer, Baton Rouge, La.
SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS
What are your personal-finance resolutions for 2022? Join the conversation below.
No additional risks
My husband and I are aiming to maintain our current portfolio of stocks, bonds and real estate with a healthy cash reserve. Since we are both seniors, we have finally reached the point where we don’t need to take any further risks with our money. After decades of investing, we are in the sweet spot of just enjoying our wealth and our good health for as long as we can.
—Judy Brassaw, Bigfork, Mont.
A plan for equities
I am a retired biologist, not a professional trader. My goal is to maintain or increase my net worth through stock investments. I have dabbled in stocks, commodities and options for over 30 years. I have a retirement account from which I receive money every month. Half of that money goes into my brokerage account. My current portfolio consists only of stocks of large-cap companies with a long-term upward trend. I trade out of stocks only after a year, when necessary. I will trade out of companies whose trend or stability seem in question and into others that show an upward trend for at least five years. I stay diversified. I pay attention to both fundamental and technical aspects of the companies I buy.
—Richard Demmer, Newport, Tenn.
Self-insuring our risks
My goals are to keep the value of our portfolio rising faster than the annual rate of inflation and to generate enough dividend and premium income from selling covered calls and cash-secured puts (which are options-trading strategies) to cover our living expenses. To accomplish this, I have been increasing our exposure to stock risks by selling more puts, which are bullish trades, and by buying more dividend stocks and ETFs. Until recently, our stock investments accounted for about 30% of our liquid assets. With the increase in sales of cash-secured puts, our cash available for trading is down to about 40% of liquid assets. Being in cash means that we are being taxed by inflation, but it hedges against a sharp drop in equity prices. I think a 6% inflation tax is cheap compared with a possible 20% to 50% drop in equity prices. In other words, we’re using some of our cash to self-insure our risks. We don’t want to suffer major losses and live with them for a long time because we’re in our mid-70s and early 80s and have shorter investment horizons than younger investors.
—Donald E.L. Johnson, Jacksonville, Fla.
A three-step plan to increase savings
My top personal-finance goal is to grow my savings. Step 1: Increase my rate of savings each month. Step 2: Stop trading in and out of stocks. Step 3: Identify and invest in a broader range of investment products, perhaps a high-yield savings account or mutual fund.
—James Carolina Jr., Estero, Fla.
A new asset allocation
I plan on revisiting our diversification strategy and asset allocations. I’m now 46 and have been a disciplined investor since my first paycheck after graduating in ’98. However, now that saving for a far-off retirement isn’t nearly as “far off,” it’s time to take a closer look at lowering our exposure to U.S.-centric equities and adjust our mix of current investments and future contributions.
—Steve Conway, New Albany, Ohio
A future in crypto
I would like to build a powerful crypto portfolio this year. I just started investing in crypto assets and I am looking forward to the big change.
—Abhishek Srivastava, Pune, India
1) Buy a second home overseas, probably in Italy. This idea came from my wife, who is from Taiwan. I’ve been browsing real estate online, mainly in Tuscany.
2) For 2022 we will see if it’s worth adding to our crypto account. While living on Maui a few years back, I went with a small group for coffee every morning and a friend often brought up the Internet of Things and cryptocurrency. At first I thought that crypto investing was pure speculation. In 2021, I opened a small crypto account to learn more about it and I’ve changed my view.
3) Avoid using the bulk of our main assets for a second home or other purchases.
4) Stay healthy—got a booster last month.
—Bob Michaelson, Cape Coral, Fla.
Cut debt, save—and have fun
My top three goals:
- Continue to pay off my student debt. I have created a debt paydown plan to consistently make weekly payments and aggressively reduce my debt.
- Make the maximum contribution to my Roth IRA. I plan on contributing $115 a week to my Roth which will max out the fund for the year and give me a great start to saving for retirement.
- Start saving money for a house down payment. I have struggled to find a safe investment vehicle to park cash in that will give me a reasonable risk-to-return ratio and has adequate liquidity. I have come across an ETF that is designed to be a low-risk vehicle to save for home down payments, but I find the net expense ratio of 0.60% to be slightly high for my liking.
Bonus Goal: Save enough to go on vacation with my girlfriend!
—Nicholas Nelson, Bloomington, Minn.
My 2022 financial goal is to be more generous. I hope to match every personal splurge this year with a gift to a charity addressing world hunger.
Like most grandmas, I splurge at Christmas on things my children and grandchildren will enjoy but don’t really need. One day as delivery boxes piled up by my door, a humanitarian aid catalog came in the mail. What a disparity between those lives and mine. The price of a pair of shoes would buy a pair of goats, providing a family with milk, meat and dignity for the future.
So, I splurged again and matched my Christmas budget, happily buying chickens, rabbits, goats and a donkey. Then it occurred to me, why not do it all year? Matching the Black Friday Instant Pot I don’t really need will buy six ducks. And I will think about them every time I use it—if I ever use it. I think knowing that an impulse purchase would cost double will make me a more mindful consumer. And perhaps I will budget for a family vacation and match it with a whole barnyard of critters that will help feed several families for a long time. P.S. The grandkids want to pick out their own barnyard critters next year.
—Rose Williams, Columbia, Mo.
Ms. Gallegos is a news editor for The Wall Street Journal in New York. Email her at [email protected].
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