Meaningful Conversations about Money
Jump-Start Your New Year
By Robert Fezza and Steve Siders
Happy New Year! Now that 2017 is a wrap, one of the best presents you can bestow on yourself and your loved ones is the gift of financial preparation for 2018. Want to get a jump-start? Over the next two monthswe will provide you with 10 financial best practices to help energize your personal wealth management efforts.
- Save today for a better retirement tomorrow. Are you maxing out pre-tax contributions to your retirement plans? Taking full advantage of your retirement plans is an important, tax-advantaged way to save for retirement. And, by the way, if you are 50 or older, you may be able to make additional “catch-up contributions” to your plan, to further accelerate your retirement-ready investing.
- Verify your valuables are still covered. Most households have insurance: home, auto, life … maybe disability and/or umbrella. But when was the last time you’ve checked to see if these policies remain right for you? Over time, it’s easy to end up with gaps or overlaps, like too much or not enough coverage, deductibles that warrant a fresh take, or beneficiaries who need to be added or removed.
- Get a grip on your debt load. Investment returns will only take you so far if excessive debt is weighing you down. Prioritize paying down high-interest credit cards and similar high-cost debt first, and at least meeting minimums on the rest. You may also want to revisit whether you still hold the best credit cards for your circumstances. Do the interest rates, incentives, protections and other perks still reflect your needs? Ditto on that for your home loan.
- Check up on your credit reports. Speaking of those credit cards, have you been periodically requesting your free annual credit report from each of the three primary credit reporting agencies? Be sure to use AnnualCreditReport.com, as it’s the only federally authorized source for doing so. By staggering your requests – submitting to one agency every fourth month – you can keep an ongoing eye on your credit, which is especially important in the wake of last summer’s Equifax breach.
- Get a bead on your budget. How much did you spend in 2017? How much do you intend to spend in the year ahead? After current spending, can you still afford to fund your future plans? Do you have enough set aside in a rainy-day fund to cover the inevitable emergencies?
Next Steps in the New Year
We get it. Life never stops. The holiday season can be a busy time that often spills right into the new year. Don’t despair if you can’t get to all of these tidbits at once. Let us know if we can help you turn your financial planning jump-start into a mighty wealth management leap. It begins with a meaningful conversation.
Life’s a journey––navigate it wisely!
Robert Fezza, CFP® and Steve Siders, CFP® own Odyssey Personal Financial Advisors, 500 Sun Valley Drive, Suite A-6, Roswell, GA. Their firm specializes in working with people who are serious about making progress towards their financial goals. Odyssey manages portfolios greater than $250,000. 770-992-4444, www.odysseypfa.com. Securities offered through Cetera Financial Specialists LLC, member FINRA/SIPC.