Ask the Money Coach: How to Improve Your Finances in 2012

What money questions you should ask yourself as you head into 2012

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If you’re ready to get your finances in tip-top shape for the New Year, there is one simple strategy that can help you achieve economic security and success.

The strategy is to ask yourself these “What if?” questions, and then come up with a preventive or proactive solution.

“What if”:

  1. I lose my job (Would you consider entrepreneurship if no one re-hired you?)
  2. I lose my spouse through death or divorce (Does he or she have life insurance; or do you have a prenup and credit in your own name?)
  3. I don’t get that raise or promotion (Would you regret overspending?)
  4. I don’t make as much money as I thought I would make (Would you still be able to pay off all those hefty student loans?)
  5. My car gets involved in an accident? (Would you have the car insurance you need?)
  6. I get sick (Would you lament being uninsured and having no healthcare coverage?)
  7. My child needs surgery (Would medical bills drive you into bankruptcy?)
  8. I lose my wallet or my credit cards and personal information get stolen? (Would you wish you had looked into identity theft protection?)
  9. I lose a big chunk or all of my savings/investments (Would you wish you had hired a financial advisor?)
  10. I am sued (Would you know how to deal with a lawsuit or court action?)
  11. My house is destroyed (Would you be covered with homeowners insurance to rebuild and know how to avoid contractor scams?)
  12. My home needs a major repair (Would you have the extra cash needed to fix things?)
  13. My taxes go up (Would you know how to lower your income taxes or slash your property taxes)?
  14. My mortgage or rent payment goes up (Would your know whether to walk away from your residence?)
  15. I am fined (Would you know how to earn additional money to avoid living paycheck to paycheck?)
  16. My ex stops paying his child support (Would you know how to get child support that’s rightfully due?)
  17. The court orders me to pay someone else (Would you have to withdraw IRA or 401(k) retirement funds to satisfy this obligation?)
  18. My wages are garnished (Would you know how to stop wage garnishment?)
  19. My employer asks me to relocate…or else (Would you have other job or career options?)
  20. Financial Armageddon happens…and the economy has a repeat of 2008 (could you and your family survive yet another recession?)
  21. The Mayans were right (The Mayan Prophecy suggests a cataclysmic or world-ending event will occur on 12/21/2012. If they’re right, what will your financial afterlife look like?)

OK, so I just threw that last one in there for shock value. But I hope you get my point: The single best financial strategy anyone can ever take to prepare for the future is to do some contingency planning.

You Need a Financial Plan B. If any one of these things listed above happened to you, how would you cope?

If you’d be financially sunk by any of these personal and financial challenges, it’s time to stop procrastinating and get serious about fixing your money problems and creating an economic backup plan. Today is as good a day as any to get started.

Do you have a solution to any of these dilemmas or did any of these things happen to you already? Sound off on this topic.

“Ask The Money Coach” is a syndicated column written by personal finance expert Lynnette Khalfani-Cox, co-founder of the free financial advice blog, AskTheMoneyCoach.com. Follow Lynnette on Twitter at @themoneycoach.