Many people set new year’s resolutions at the beginning of the year. Losing weight and saving money is usually at the top of the list, experts say, but financial advisors suggest setting attainable goals and starting small.

Ty Pendergrass, senior vice president of Argent Financial in Minden, offered a few tips for investors to make sure they have a healthy investment package in 2017. With the sometimes volatile nature of the stock market, Pendergrass suggests making a long-term view of what they want so as not to be distracted with short-term volatility.

“I believe most competent financial advisors would say that trying to predict the movements of the financial markets over a relatively short period, such as for 2017, is simply a ‘best guess proposition,’” he said. “What I can say is that people who follow certain principles will tend to flourish over time.”

Don’t spend more than your income.

Have an emergency fund consisting of three to six months of living expenses.

Establish a plan to get out of debt (owing money for consumer-type items is widely accepted as being an unwise financial practice.)

Diversify your investments (don’t place all your financial eggs in one basket).

Take a long-term view regarding your investments (there are all types of events and circumstances that can affect the financial markets in the short run). Over time, financial markets tend to return to reasonable or historical valuations.

“We suggest our clients invest in a manner that is appropriate for their age, their financial goals, risk tolerance and time horizon,” Pendergrass said. “We find that clients who approach their investments in this manner are not as easily distracted by the short term volatility that occurs from time to time in the financial markets.”

Pendergrass said the stock market has seen a positive boost since the election of President-elect Donald Trump. He said he believes it is the fact that Trump is a businessman and could implement policies that are business-friendly.

“It could result in higher rates of economic growth, which in turn, often translates into higher corporate earnings and provides the basis for higher stock prices,” he said. “Ultimately, companies will need to generate higher earnings for the current rally to continue.”

The Rev. Royal Scott, pastor of St. Paul Missionary Baptist Church, teaches finance classes to church members and the general public. He said the only attainable goal is one in which a person puts their heart into it.

“One first must want something better in your heart and then make it up that you want it,” he said. “The Bible gives us the first word of motivation. ‘I can do all things through Christ that strengthens me.’”

A person or family must look at their total income and debt.

“Begin with reducing your debt and decide to live within your income,” he said. “Explore ways of improving your income – go back to school, ask for a raise or take on an additional job.”
Set a goal of reducing debt, he said.

“The more interest you pay, the less money goes into your pocket,” Scott said. “Make a decision not to get pay day loans, pay for tax preparation if your income is less than $54,000.”

He added, “There is an old saying, ‘Spend some, save some and you will always have some.’”