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New Year’s Resolutions: What money pros vow to do better in 2017

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New Year’s Resolutions: What money pros vow to do better in 2017

When it comes to New Year’s resolutions, the money pros are a lot like everyone else.

They resolve to spend less. To save more, especially for retirement. To help family members handle money more effectively. To reduce stress.

Away from finances, they talk about self-improvement and tackling the bucket list. MarketWatch asked some of them (and a few others) what they want to accomplish in 2017. Here’s what they said:


I tell myself this almost every year: Buy ’em when they’re down, trim them when they’re up. The tendency to sell when the market’s going down and jump in when it’s going up — you’ve got to fight that.

— Bob Doll, chief investment strategist at Nuveen

Take my own advice and not constantly monitor the value of my investment accounts. Building wealth is a long game, and even though I am 58 years old, I am still firmly ensconced in the wealth-accumulation stage. The next year is likely to bring us some surprises with respect to the financial markets. I resolve to stay the course.

— Robert Johnson, president & CEO, The American College of Financial Services

Keep building cash, keep expenses focused on what’s relevant — but have a bit of fun as well and take advantage of coming volatility and price expansion in both directions. Don’t be stubborn, and stay flexible. After my health scare this summer, my focus has shifted to stay fit and healthy and keep my thinking clear [and] away from noise and distractions. Compromising your health to be in every trade is not acceptable. Relax and focus on the big picture.

Sven Henrich, technical chartist and founder of Northman Trader

My New Year’s resolution is to give the bubble more respect. Yes, they all burst, but this one has held up longer than any in history. No more bubble-bashing until there are clear technical signs of a top. The third and final stock bubble will peak somewhere between late spring and early fall when the markets realize they aren’t going to get sustained 3% to 4% growth as promised. But the bond bubble has many years to go after this intermediate term minicrash.

Harry Dent, author of “The Sale of a Lifetime” and editor of the free newsletter, Economy and Markets

My resolution is to finally get it together to buy I Bonds. I set up a TreasuryDirect account and then got sidetracked.

Olivia Mitchell, professor of business economics and policy at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, where her focus includes pensions and retirement.

Convert my ready money into long-term equity. Six hundred years of history tells us that stocks really are the best investment for the long-term. They allow investors small and large a chance to participate in shared economic growth. A diversified portfolio spreads risks across many different stocks, industries and countries. Low cost exchange-traded funds are my preferred investment vehicles. Resolved: to give my future self a gift of great value by foregoing a bit of consumption today.

— William Goetzmann, professor of finance at the Yale School of Management and author of “Money Changes Everything: How Finance Made Civilization Possible

1. Do not ever underestimate Donald Trump.

2. Do not believe the polls again.

3. Do not believe the Democrats have their act together; they’re in the wilderness thru the 2018 election.

4. When in doubt in the next year, remember Resolution No. 1.

— Greg Valliere, chief global strategist of Horizon Investments

Cut spending

I think a lot of people will be resolving to spend less on restaurants, takeout, and delivery this year — and my husband and I are two of them! A new survey last month showed that 45% of Americans cite food costs as their biggest budget buster, which proves that for one reason or another, eating out is a really easy trap for a many of us to fall into.

Personally, my husband and I have gotten into that habit because we both work long hours, so when we get home to each other — and our little girl — at the end of the day, we’re just looking for the fastest, easiest option. But, of course, eating out multiple times a week really takes a bite out of our budget. So this year we’re planning to make more meals at home, which will also give us more laid-back, quality time as a family and hopefully encourage us to eat a bit more healthfully.

— Alexa von Tobel, founder and CEO of, a personal finance website

My goal by year-end 2017 is to get my “shelter-cost-to-income” ratio well below 25%. Many people think they are at about 30% of their income for shelter, which is the arbitrary number banks say is OK. Most people though don’t correctly account for taxes, upkeep and insurance and are well past 30%. That’s a crippling amount if you want to get ahead long-term.

By getting my total shelter expenses well below 25%, I can reallocate the money to investing in profitable companies that return money to me.

Kirk Spano, MarketWatch Trading Deck columnist and founder of Bluemound Asset Management.

Track spending

In 2017 I’d like to improve my workflow for tracking and paying credit card bills. Since knowing the ins and outs of top cards is a big part of my job, I’m juggling roughly 30 at the moment, including some with nearly all of the major issuers. I also have a few business cards in the mix, which means a dozen or so online accounts to keep tabs on throughout each month.

To make matters worse, I don’t use Autopay, since I often come across a transaction I don’t recognize. The good news is that I’ve only overlooked a payment once, and since I was just a week late, it had yet to hit my credit report. Clearly there’s room for improvement here, but I’m just going to enjoy the holidays and take another look come Jan. 1. Let’s call this a work in progress…

— Zach Honig, editor in chief of The Points Guy website

Financial planning

I have three resolutions: review the asset allocation for my financial plan, ensure my estate planning is up-to-date, and get my 14-year-old son engaged in investing in a basic way so he learns the fundamentals.

— Kathy Murphy, president, Fidelity Personal Investing.

I resolve to speak more publicly, write more for publication and daily ask my clients to pass on to their friends and relatives about the importance of living within your means and saving for your future. We have so many people enter our doors looking for financial planning advice, many of whom wouldn’t be able to be independent in retirement had they not sought that advice. Yet, these folks are merely a small portion of our total population.

Many people cannot afford professional advice or choose not to seek it. It is these people I try to reach. We can all make financial adjustments in our lives but the one thing we cannot control is time. Start living within your means and saving for the future NOW.

— Ted Sarenski, CEO of Blue Ocean Strategic Capital in Syracuse, N.Y.

Read: 7 money resolutions to make next year

Saving for retirement

My financial New Year’s resolution is always the same: Save more money for retirement. Boring, but…

Bill Bischoff, MarketWatch tax columnist

I pledge to increase the amount and percentage of my income that I save for retirement thought automatic payroll deduction, to invest it prudently for long-term growth, and to avoid trading it any more frequently than annually.

— Stephen Horan, managing director, Credentialing, CFA Institute

Focus on making IRA and profit-sharing contributions earlier in the year.

— Robert S. Keebler, Keebler & Associates, a tax advisory firm for high-net worth individuals in Green Bay, Wis

I resolve to schedule an appointment with a CPA/financial adviser who can help me, given my career as a freelance journalist and a longtime member of what is now called the gig economy, make sure that I am maximizing the amount of money I can set aside in my retirement accounts. I value getting a second opinion.

— Robert Powell, MarketWatch retirement columnist

Read:The typical American couple has only $5,000 saved for retirement


As I retire from LPL Financial, it’s making sure my spending matches what my investments can produce. Being thoughtful about budgets and not overspending will be important.

— Mark Casady, CEO of LPL Financial


Life is busy, so my goal is not to forget about the simple but immensely important things: Be a good husband, be a good friend. Smile more, treat others with kindness and patience. Never have a “what you see is what you get” kind of attitude, but chisel on a better me every day.

— Simon Maierhofer, MarketWatch Trading Deck columnist and the founder of iSPYETF and publisher of the Profit Radar Report.

My resolution: to always be open to new ideas

— Kevin Marder, MarketWatch Trading Deck columnist and principal of Marder Investment Advisors Corp.

To find the financial apps that I actually think are kind of cool and worth it, even for an old Luddite like me. I increasingly fear that I am missing out on some really helpful tools. Plus my kids want me to Venmo them the money I owe them, not to send them a check.

Chuck Jaffe, MarketWatch columnist

Also from Chuck Jaffe:Ditch your New Year’s resolutions and, like me, set 3 realistic money goals for 2017

I resolve to find ways to make myself more uncomfortable in 2017—professionally, personally, and financially. Professionally, that means putting myself in front of audiences who are likely to disagree with my messages or challenge my points of view about what matters in business and leadership.

Personally, that means moving beyond writing checks for causes and engaging in direct activism of the sort that can get a little raucous.

Financially, it means going beyond my ultracautious strategy of buying and holding low-fee mutual funds, and looking to fund companies that can have a big impact on the world — and maybe generate some outsize returns.

— William C. Taylor, co-founder of Fast Company and author of “Simply Brilliant: How Great Organizations Do Ordinary Things in Extraordinary Ways

I have two New Year’s resolutions. One is to translate my research and the academic research that is done on financial literacy for a large public so that it is more accessible and more appreciated. I strongly believe that financial literacy is an essential skill to have today and it is important for personal finance to be as research-based as possible

The second is to take a long vacation, with no work, no deadlines and having the luxury of feeling bored…

Annamaria Lusardi, academic director, Global Financial Literacy Excellence Center at The George Washington University School of Business

Manage my time better, be funnier and get to at least one country where my ancestors came from. (Jersey City doesn’t count.) And to afflict the comfortable while comforting the afflicted.

Tim Mullaney, MarketWatch columnist

Waste less food! It’s estimated that 30% to 50% of all the food produced in the world is not eaten. We can’t directly prevent wastage during harvesting, transporting, storing, or retailing. But we can pledge to discard as little as possible at home. So cut the mold off the cheese; put overripe fruit into baked desserts; and make Leftover Soup a household staple.

Emrys Westacott, philosophy professor at Alfred University and author of “The Wisdom of Frugality”

If you look at the outcome of the U.S. elections, you see that the gaps are widening between the haves and have-nots. If we don’t all work to share the prosperity we are creating we will drift toward the dystopia of Mad Max when we could instead be building a Star Trek future.

My goal in 2017 is to work toward narrowing the gaps by sharing knowledge and inspiring entrepreneurs everywhere to use technology to uplift all of mankind. We are at a really important junction in human history when we can make a choice about what future we build.

Vivek Wadhwa, professor at Carnegie Mellon University Engineering at Silicon Valley

I resolve to spend more time on me and really start — given what is now an estimated 10,000 days of life expectancy — knocking off items on my “bucket” list: Take a pottery class, visit Dublin, read more, exercise more, lose weight, and make sure my triplet sons graduate college on time this May and become productive members of society.

Robert Powell, MarketWatch retirement columnist


I resolve to complete what I started in 1990: to complete my Certified Financial Planner coursework and sit for the CFP exam.

Robert Powell, MarketWatch retirement columnist

I resolve to become easier to do business with — to walk in customers’ shoes through every interaction, every touchpoint, and make it easier for them to work with us, find what they want, and navigate. No more asking them “please listen carefully, as our options have changed.” I resolve to listen more carefully to you.

— Thomas A. Stewart, author of “Woo, Wow, and Win: Service Design, Strategy, and the Art of Customer Delight

I am resolved to focus on simplifying my life. I want quality over quantity and less is more. I intend to clean out the junk, and not replace it. I want to dedicate more time to the simple things: a campfire with friends, a board game with the children. My theme for 2017 is quality over quantity.

— Tom Anderson, founder and CEO, Supernova Companies and author of “The Value of Debt

I’m trying to follow the easier-said-than-done advice of “do less, better.” In other words, my goal is to prioritize the few big projects that have the best shot of making children’ lives better.

— Angela Duckworth, author of “Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverence

And me? I resolve to better resist the ease of online shopping and do better at shopping in local businesses that I want to see stick around.

— Mark DeCambre, Barbara Kollmeyer, Robert Schroeder and Catey Hill contributed to this article.