The year is winding down and with that comes a window of opportunity to make a few last minute moves before the year passes by.
There is not necessarily a set deadline for all these things but don’t be fooled… there is a deadline for everything but that deadline is not always known by a set date.
And that is part of the problem with most financial planning; it is easy to skip over and ignore with regrets later for not taking care of things earlier.
I was walking through Lowe’s over the weekend and I was shocked to see that Christmas decorations are already up on display with no sign of Halloween or Thanksgiving. (Keep in mind, I am writing this and it is not even Halloween yet.)
It made me think of how our society has become so fast paced that we are now skipping holidays.
It reminded me of how many people handle their financial life. They go from one proverbial fire to another paying bills and living life and often skip over the details of their planning.
If this is you then this is a perfect opportunity to take a time out and think through and address a few things before the end of the year.
Why the end of the year? Well, for some things if you wait until the year is over then it may be too late to make changes. In addition, once the New Year rolls over you will have a whole new year to procrastinate and make excuses for not taking action.
So, the end of the year can be a reason to take time to address a few things and enter into 2018 with some of these things off of your plate and taken care of.
Here we go…
When was the last time you checked your retirement account and life insurance beneficiaries? A good test of this is to ask yourself who you have listed. If you don’t know then it may be time to review them. If you know and they are not who you want listed then again it may be a good time to make changes.
The truth is, unless you are a number junkie like myself, you probably don’t even have a working budget or have a clue about how much money you need each year to run your household. (If you just caught yourself thinking about a number then I am talking to you.) There is a difference between having a rough estimate, which typically equals your income (or a little more), and actually knowing.
If you don’t have an itemized cash flow worksheet for 2018 already completed then now is the time to get that taken care of. You don’t want to wait until the year begins to start figuring out how much money you need. That is poor planning 101.
Do you remember those investments you chose a few years back when you opened the account you have? Remember what you picked? If you don’t know what your portfolio is made up of or the asset classes you own then you definitely want to get those statements out and begin Googling your ticker symbols.
If you have no idea what I am talking about then you need to get in contact with me and we can take a look to point you in the right direction. The markets are at all time highs making it a great time to make changes if changes are needed.
This is something people often buy and forget about. Insurance covers many things from life, auto, home, health, disability, long-term care and more. The worst part is that it is boring and confusing but that can’t be an excuse for not addressing it.
Do you know how much coverage you are carrying, how much it costs and who to contact if you need something? If you do then congratulations! If not, well, guess what… it is time to get it together! This is important stuff and can often be like Thanksgiving and skipped over completely.
The most common response I get from people when reviewing their financial planning and discussing their estate planning is, “We know we need to do something but haven’t done anything.”
Organizing your estate and outlining your goals for your assets after you’re gone helps ensure your wishes are fulfilled. This also includes minor children; you have to consider what happens to them if you die.
When it comes to legal work, you have to view it as if you were going to die today. Morbid and depressing I know but this is not about making you feel good, this is about getting you taken care of.
If there is one area of my personal financial planning that I spend most of my time and mental energy is in the area of taxes. I figure that if I can reduce my taxes it is equivalent to earning money on an investment. It is a gain either way.
The tricky thing about taxes is that many people assume that preparing a tax return is all they need to do. This may be true for some but there is more to it than that. You see, there are thousands of pages of code and rulings and out of those pages only a few tell you what has to be done and what you have to pay. The rest of the pages tell you how to circumvent paying those taxes. The answer to reducing your taxes is right there and by not learning and seeking professional help you may be over paying Uncle Sam.
I think that like most things in life, we know we need to take care of certain things but often don’t know what to do or where to go. When it comes to all things financial planning, my firm coordinates all of these things for you. It really can’t be any easier.
If you want help or have questions let me know.
The article and opinions in this publication are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. We suggest that you consult your accountant, tax, or legal advisor with regard to your individual situation.