It’s that time of year again to review your annual and overall financial health. It’s also an important time to review whether you need to make any financial changes in the year to come to improve your financial health and make sure it’s in line with your wishes and goals. But which areas should you focus on?
Your financial to-do list should include these key areas to review:
The end of the year is a great time to review whether you’re meeting your short- and long-term financial goals. As for short-term goals, do you have a major life change coming up, such as getting married or having a child? Or, maybe you’re planning a cross-country move, a big vacation, or you’re saving up to buy a new car. No matter what you have coming up, you’ll need to make sure your financial plan is adjusted to meet your needs.
As for long-term goals, maybe you’re hoping to save up enough money to buy a house in five years, or you just had a baby and you want to start a college fund. Make sure you contribute enough each month and year so that you stay on track to meet these goals.
If you keep track of your spending habits month to month — whether manually or through an app — tallying up the total amount you spend per year should be pretty straightforward.
- Did you meet your budgeting goals?
- How does this year’s spending compare to previous years’ spending?
- Are there any areas where you should cut back on spending for the upcoming year?
When reviewing your spending habits, you should also take a look at how much you’ve saved throughout the year and over time. You should have enough in your emergency savings account to cover your expenses for three to six months. If you recently dipped into your savings or you haven’t been saving enough, it’s time to rethink your financial plan to make saving a bigger priority — after all, you never know when a financial emergency will strike.
Did you meet your debt repayment goals? If not, take a look at your spending and savings habits. If you can cut back on spending, great — contribute more money to paying off debt. If you already have six months of emergency savings, consider cutting back on how much you save each month and instead put some of that money towards paying off high-interest debt.
It’s a good idea to review your investments at least once a year. Take this time to rebalance your portfolio and make sure your investments are in line with your goals.
To begin with, make sure you’re taking complete advantage of your 401(k) plan and any IRA accounts. If you haven’t contributed enough to your 401(k), you’ll have until the end of the year to remedy this. For your IRA account, you’ll have until tax day to meet contribution limits. Another option is to consider converting one or more of your retirement accounts into a Roth IRA to reap the tax benefits.
Estate Plan, Will, and Beneficiaries
Your financial to-do list should also include a review of your estate plan, will, and beneficiaries (for all policies). Did you have a major life change over the past year, such as a marriage or divorce? Make sure that’s reflected in your plan and that your beneficiaries are up to date. Or, maybe you finally purchased your dream home. Review your assets and make sure your estate plan reflects your current wishes.
Consult a Financial Advisor
If you need assistance mapping out your financial goals or creating a financial plan for the coming year, schedule a consultation with one of our wealth management experts. Our experts will help you to create a straightforward, customized plan that meets your present and future needs.