For many people, the New Year is a time for personal reflection, a time to consider commitments and resolutions for the coming year. This year, why not resolve to make your finances a priority? With proper planning and appropriate guidance, you can begin to build financial stability and prepare for the uncertainties of tomorrow.
Consider the following steps:
- Get Organized. Gather all your important financial documents—life insurance policies, homeowners insurance, wills, trusts, and other pertinent financial records—and organize them so you can access them quickly and easily.
- Schedule a Legal Consultation. Arrange a time to meet with your attorney to review or write your will and establish any necessary trusts. Prior to your meeting, discuss with your spouse or other loved ones how to handle property dispositions and guardian appointments.
- Keep Debt in Check. Pay off high interest debt first, especially if the interest is not tax deductible. Do your best to avoid the minimum payment trap. By making only the minimum monthly payment, the interest that accumulates over time can make even “bargain” purchases costly in the long run.
- Review Insurance Coverage. Review your life insurance policies to ensure that your beneficiary designations are appropriate to your current situation and that all arrangements are up-to-date. Also, consider repaying any loans you may have against your insurance policies. This can help to reestablish an emergency fund for the future.
- Apply for Scholarships. If your children plan to attend college next year and require financial aid, remember that financial aid forms are due early in the year. The earlier you apply, the better your chances may be for obtaining aid.
- Prepare a Tax Strategy. Begin to gather your tax information and arrange a time to meet with your accountant, if necessary. It is important to file your income taxes on time and to be aware of any tax changes that may affect your return.
- Write It All Down. Once you’ve met with your financial, insurance, and tax professionals, write down a few realistic goals that you think are achievable. Make the commitment now to plan your finances accordingly. This is your first step to building a solid financial future.
The New Year offers us a fresh beginning. This year, resolve to make your finances a priority. With proper planning and appropriate guidance, you can begin to work toward financial independence and prepare for life’s uncertainties.