12 Grapes for New Year’s Eve

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Are you ready to take on the New Year? Have you made your list of resolutions? New Year’s Eve is a day of magic; it’s a time of possibility, joy, laughter and glistening eyes. My mom is a true believer in this sense and she always had plenty of fun-filled ways to get the kids and the adults thinking about the positive new potential outcomes for the New Year.

As a child, provisions for the day included:

  1. A new outfit;
  2. A suitcase filled with clothes; and
  3. 12 grapes

The new outfit was a gift from Christmas with the specific intent to be worn for New Year’s. It was meant to symbolize a fresh start and to look nice in pictures. I clearly remember running with my mom as a child, “a la vuelta de la manzana” which is another way of saying, “Around the block,” while hauling a Lion King rolling suitcase and laughing till my belly ached. The act was to promote traveling around the world for the New Year, which might have a lot to do with my wanderlust.

Finally, we ate the 12 grapes at exactly the stroke of midnight, with which we made 12 wishes. If you have a chance to try this one, separate the 12 grapes prior to starting and you will have a higher chance of success. Also, 12 wishes is a lot so if you run out of things, turn into Miss America and wish for World Peace or repeat a wish – it always worked for me.

This year I will eat 12 grapes and wear a new outfit. I haven’t done the suitcase for a while but it’s time to start once more. What I will do is turn those wishes into something more; firm decisions to do something. I like to keep my resolutions as actions “to do” instead of “what not to do.” After many years of resolving to stop eating sweets, I have realized cookies will always be my downfall.

Just like my mom had me prepare for the magical New Year’s Eve, we can prepare our financial lives so the New Year starts strong and full of promise. When it comes to my financial plan I have 3 categories:

  1. Musts
  2. Fun
  3. Constants

Musts: If you don’t take care of these then they will haunt you the rest for the year:

  • Pay off your credit card bill in full before the end of the January or make a plan to pay it off as early as you can before the end of the year.
  • Return/exchange gifts you did not like by the gift receipt date.
  • If you have not done so, set up or continue to fund a holiday savings account on a monthly basis starting February of the New Year.

Fun: If there were any wishes while you ate those grapes you can attain, make them happen:

  • Write down your specific goal. For example: travel to the Caribbean.
  • Create actionable steps: Look up flights, hotel and attractions.
  • Consult your financial advisor and create a line item on your budget dedicated to funding it.
  • Create a deadline together so they can keep you accountable.

Constant: Every year, review your financial plan. If you don’t have one then create one. Things to think about are:

  • Am I saving enough to get closer to financial freedom?
  • Have I establish short, medium and long-term financial goals?
  • Am I reviewing my financial plan monthly, quarterly, semi-annually, or at least annually?
  • Am I comfortable with my relationship with my current advisor?
  • Have I established safeguards like insurance and an estate plan in case of unexpected events?
  • Do my finances give me a sense of relief and even joy?

If you were uncertain on the answer to any of those questions, then go to your calendar and schedule an appointment with your advisor to discuss them before the end of the first quarter. We must plan ahead in the upcoming year to create a blueprint for financial independence.

My mom’s rituals did not guarantee returns, but they kept me busy throughout the day, they gave me something to look forward to every year and maybe, just maybe, they created enough magic to make every year full of promise, joy and the knowledge to make every year better than the last. That is my wish for you!

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