11 tactics to make this your best year ever
The beginning of a new year is a particularly good time for you and your family to review finances and to update financial plans.
Staying organized and planning finances are lifelong processes, and the keys to reaching and maintaining financial success.
Sensible financial management is more than budgeting and saving for retirement. It’s about being ready to handle a lifetime of financial challenges, needs and changes.
Happy New Year to you and your family!
The beginning of a new year is a good time to review your finances and update financial strategies and plans. This year is especially important as financially challenging times continue for many individuals and businesses, rich and poor, big and small.
Even if the 2017 Tax Cut and Jobs Act (TCJA) had not been passed, most would say that managing their personal finances is more complicated and more important than ever before. We’re living longer, but saving proportionately less. Many of us feel less secure in our jobs and homes than we did in the past. We see our money being drained by the high cost of housing, taxes, education and health care. We worry about the future, or unfortunately, in too many cases, we simply try not to think about it.
More than simply budgeting and saving
Sensible financial management means much more than budgeting and putting money away for retirement. It means being equipped to handle a lifetime of financial challenges, needs and changes; figuring out how to build assets and staying ahead of inflation; taking advantage of deflation; and choosing wisely from a constantly widening field of savings, investment and insurance options. When it comes to finances, you are faced with more pressures and more possibilities than ever before.
The good news is that as complex as today’s financial world is, there’s no real mystery to sound personal money management. What you need is a solid foundation of organization and decision-making, plus the willingness to put those two things into action. I’ll talk about those core principles in just a minute.
Effective financial management involves certain procedures that you don’t usually learn from your parents or friends—and unfortunately they aren’t currently taught in our schools. It’s more than just a matter of gathering enough information and then making a logical decision. In fact, for many people, the constant barrage of economic news, fragmented financial information and investment product advertisements is part of the problem. Information overload can be a major obstacle to sorting out choices and making wise decisions.
The Financial Awareness Foundation, a California-based not-for-profit organization developed a simple personal financial management system that’s designed to help you save time and money, while providing a systematic approach to help you better manage finances. The key is to stay organized, remain aware of money issues, and make deliberate choices about ways to spend, save, insure and invest your assets. That’s so much smarter than simply following your emotions or “going with the flow.”
1. Paperwork. Everyone has primary financial documents—birth certificates, marriage certificates, current year net-worth statement, retirement plan beneficiary statements, deeds of trust, certificates of vehicle title, last three tax returns, gift tax returns, insurance policies, wills, trusts, powers of attorney, passwords, digital paperwork, etc. Organize this information and keep it in a safe central location that ties into your paper and digital filing systems.
2. Net Worth. Know where you stand by inventorying what you own and what you owe. The beginning of a new year is an excellent time to do this, but you can do it any time. Just be sure to do this personal inventory at least once a year.
3. Cash Flow. Gain control of cash flow by spending according to a plan, not spending impulsively.
4. Employment Benefits. Make sure you fully understand employee benefits (the “hidden paycheck”) at your company. Maximize any dollar amounts that your employer contributes toward health insurance, life insurance, retirement plans and other benefits.
5. Goal Setting. Before you begin the financial planning process, ask yourself what’s really important to you financially and personally. These are key elements of planning for your future; they affect your options, strategies and implementation decisions.
6. Financial Independence and Retirement Planning. A comfortable retirement, perhaps at an early age, is one of the most common reasons people become interested in financial planning. Determine how much money is a reasonable nest egg to reach and maintain your financial independence. Then work with your advisors to determine the right strategy to make that goal a reality.
7. Major Expenditures Planning. A home, a car, and a child’s or grandchild’s college education—these are all big-ticket items that are best planned for in advance. Develop sound financial strategies early on for effectively achieving the funding you need for those big bills down the road.
8. Investments Planning. For most of us, wise investing is the key to achieving and maintaining our financial independence as well as our other financial goals. Establish and refresh investment goals, risk tolerance and asset allocation models that best fit your situation.
9. Tax Planning. Your financial planning should include tax considerations, regardless of your level of wealth. Proactively take advantage of opportunities for minimizing tax obligations.
10. Insurance Planning. Decide what to self-insure and which risks to pass off to insurance companies—and at what price you’re willing to do so.
11. Estate Planning. Develop or update your estate plan. If you get sick or die without an up-to-date estate plan, the management and distribution of assets can become a time-consuming and costly financial challenge for loved ones and survivors.
It is estimated that over 120 million Americans do not have up-to-date estate plans to protect themselves and their families. This makes estate planning one of the most overlooked areas of personal financial management. Estate and financial planning is not just for the wealthy; it is an important process for everyone. With advance planning, issues such as guardianship of children, management of bill-paying and assets—including businesses and practices—care of a child with special needs or a parent, long-term care needs, wealth preservation, and distribution of retirement assets can all be handled with sensitivity and care and at a reasonable cost.
Staying organized and planning wisely are the keys to financial success. Short of winning the lottery or inheriting millions, few people can attain and maintain financial security without some forethought, strategy and ongoing management. The beginning of a new year is an excellent time for you and your family to review finances and update financial plans.
Let’s have a great 2019!
Robert J. Pyle, CFP®, CFA is president of Diversified Asset Management, Inc. (DAMI). DAMI is licensed as an investment adviser with the State of Colorado Division of Securities, and its investment advisory representatives are licensed by the State of Colorado. DAMI will only transact business in other states to the extent DAMI has made the requisite notice filings or obtained the necessary licensing in such state. No follow up or individualized responses to persons in other jurisdictions that involve either rendering or attempting to render personalized investment advice for compensation will be made absent compliance with applicable legal requirements, or an applicable exemption or exclusion. It does not constitute investment or tax advice. To contact Robert, call 303-440-2906 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
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