Seek Good Health And Wealth In The New Year

Like many of you, I spent some of the holiday season traveling to see and spend time with family. That’s easier said than done when it involves three small children age 5 and under.

Between airplane delays, crowded parking lots and long rental car lines, I ended up this past week in snow-covered Michigan, stuck in a house with my in-laws (God bless them), where every family member took turns with a stomach bug, in addition to a double ear infection for my 11-month-old. How relaxing!

As the children and adults finally recovered, it reminded me of a study from the University of Michigan I read earlier in the year about the importance of health in our quest for financial stability. Here are some staggering statistics that tell the story:

– Mean net worth of household in study with excellent health: $500,000

– Mean net worth of household in study with poor health: $164,000

That’s three times the net worth for a family with great health — three times!

As we start the new year, it’s important to write down your goals for 2013. This is an exercise I go through every year that helps me and my family focus on the most important components of our busy lives. Here are a few of my 2013 goals:

Health/Wellness

  •  Continue to exercise four to five times a week.
  • Finish an Olympic-distance triathlon. (This past summer I did a shorter version of a triathlon called a “sprint distance,” which forced me to stay in shape.)
  • Get back to my ideal weight range, as the holiday season has put me a little out of range.

Family

  • Keep the kids active in the sports and activities they love (baseball, basketball, soccer, swimming and piano).
  • Continue Friday “date nights” with my wife two to three times a month.
  • Use local memberships with the family at least once a month (Atlanta Botanical Gardens, Fernbank and Zoo Atlanta).

Financial

  • Continue to max out 401(k) and SEP IRA accounts.
  • Continue to provide 401(k) matching at our firm.
  • Add to college savings accounts for all three children.
  • Continue dividend reinvest programs for Proctor & Gamble, Southern Company and my two long-term favorite exchange-traded funds: SDY (S&P dividend ETF) and DVY (Dow Jones Select Dividend Index).

Business/Career

I’ll keep you guessing on most of these, but I’m putting an important one out for display so I stick to it:

  •  Finish writing, and then publish, my book, “Happiest Retiree on the Block.”

Here we go again

Like last year, we enter a new year with a great deal of political and economic uncertainty, trying to determine how much impact tax and fiscal changes will impact us in the next 12 months.

“Fiscal cliff” headwinds will undoubtedly have some impact on the economy in early 2013, so my overall investment theme continues to point toward high-quality, dividend-paying companies like the ones that comprise SDY and DVY.

I wish you and your family the very best in 2013. And I start it off with a question: What things will you focus on in the new year?

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