Published by Taylor Financial Group
Most people have a new year’s resolution that has something to do with losing weight, exercising more, or bettering themselves in some way. But equally as important, and growing more popular, is the resolution to become financially fit. Since many people tend to binge on their bad habits toward the end of the year, the transition to good behavior in the New Year can be drastic and painful, and it’s easy to become overwhelmed with all that’s involved with accomplishing your goals. For this reason, you can become discouraged.
We are here to remind you that “being good” doesn’t have to be complicated. The key is to choose a resolution or goal, and then break it down into steps. Mini-goals are much easier to achieve and this approach can propel you into a motivated state because the achievement of short-term, smaller goals will be gratifying and keep you moving forward.
We are going to briefly outline a monthly to-do list to keep you on track through June 2017, and we will follow later for the last half of 2017. In addition, we will include a highlight for monthly to-do items in The Week Ahead to remind you to check them off your “to-do list.”
Now, with some helpful tips from Morningstar, a leading provider of independent investment research, let’s go over the items to get you started on the path toward financial fitness.
January – Examine & Reconsider
This is a good time to figure out where you are in terms of your financial goals, and decide how to most effectively continue moving forward toward those goals. You should also consider how to adjust your contributions to your retirement plans to “max out” on the contribution limits. IRA limits are $5,500 for investors younger than 50 and $6,500 for those 50 and older. 401(k), 403(b), and other workplace retirement plan limits are $18,000 for investors younger than 50 and $24,000 for those 50 and older.
February – Review & Prepare
Take time to review your portfolio to see how your investments did in 2016. If you haven’t done a review in more than a year, you should do a complete review of your portfolio and figure out if any changes should be made. Never hesitate to call us and schedule a meeting to discuss these items. This is also a good time to gather and review documents in preparation for filing your 2016 tax returns.
March – Contribute
Since the tax return filing deadline (April 18th this year) is right around the corner at this point, make sure you fully fund your IRAs for 2016, as this deadline will also mark the end of your chance to do so. IRA contribution limits are $5,500 for those younger than 50 and $6,500 for people 50 and older. You should also consider funding your health savings account (HSA), if you have one, as April 18th is the deadline for funding HSAs as well, if you want it to count for the 2016 tax year. Single individuals can contribute $3,350 and families can contribute $6,750, while people 55 and older can contribute an additional $1,000.
April – Shed and Organize
Consider this time to do “financial spring cleaning.” After going through paperwork for tax season, you may realize you have plenty you can get rid of – so do it! Whatever you decide to keep, you should consider scanning onto your computer and saving electronically, so that you can get rid of as much paper as possible. At our firm, we realize that we can’t necessarily go paperless, but we can go “less-paper.” Lastly, while you’re on your computer, make yourself a spreadsheet or Word document that includes all your financial accounts, with name, account number, URL, etc. – make it easy to locate this information at-a-glance. But make sure you protect the document with a password or keep a hardcopy in a safe, secure place. Only advise your loved ones of its existence and location. To help you get started on creating this directory of sorts, you can click here to use this template.
Our financial planning process, WealthMatch, which many of you are already benefiting from, includes an “Organizer,” which can help you consolidate all of your important financial information into one place. It also includes a “Vault” that allows you to securely store important documents and safely share them with whomever you want. To learn more about WealthMatch, click here, or call our office to schedule a meeting.
May – Assess Emergency Funds
Emergency funds are a necessity. For most households, holding three to six months-worth of living expenses in cash is a good starting point, though investors who earn high salaries or have volatile earnings streams should consider holding more. Moreover, retired individuals may want to hold even more cash, in the event that one of their income sources is disturbed for any reason. Currently, online savings accounts tend to offer the highest yield of any risk-free investment type.
June – Create a Plan
Creating a financial plan is essential to building your future. Not having one is similar to building a house without a blueprint. It doesn’t have to be a complicated plan, it just needs to layout the basics of what you are trying to work towards achieving, including what your goals are, how long you have to work towards those goals, and other factors. But having more details in your plan is always best to help you consider all possibilities and events, and to help you stay on track toward your goals. As we mentioned above, our topnotch planning process, WealthMatch™, has allowed us to continue “helping clients live the best days of their lives” by giving us the capabilities to create thoughtful and thorough financial plans. If you’re interested in learning more about WealthMatch™, click here for more info, or call our office to schedule a WealthMatch™ meeting.
The summer will be time for a mid-year review, and we will be sure to check in with you about these items and others then. In the meantime, if you have any questions or wish to schedule a portfolio review, please call our office.
Securities offered through LPL Financial, Member FINRA/SIPC. Investment advisory services offered through CWM, LLC a Registered Investment Advisor. LPL Financial is under separate ownership from any other named entity.
Content in this material is for general information only and not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. No strategy assures success or protects against loss. Investing involves risk including loss of principal. Contributions to a traditional IRA may be tax deductible in the contribution year, with current income tax due at withdrawal. Withdrawals prior to age 59 may result in a 10% IRS penalty tax in addition to current income tax.