With a little more than half of 2018 behind us, I always feel the summer is a great opportunity to review your finances. To simplify the matter, I have a 5-part checklist that will help you cover your basis and stay on course for your 2018 goals.
If you aren’t maxing your 401K yet, you need to find ways to increase your contribution. With recent tax law changes (more about this later), you’re likely seeing more money on your take home pay. Those additional earnings make the perfect 401K contribution. You won’t feel it off your standard take home and your putting more towards your retirement.
Other income increases to consider are if you received a salary bump this year, that is another perfect example of retirement money. Your lifestyle will accommodate for an increased savings, especially if you never see the money on your take home pay.
If you currently aren’t on track to max out your 401K, there is still time to make adjustments. If you can afford to bump your contributions from every paycheck from now until the end of the year, do it.
And if you’re self-employed or practicing other forms of retirement management, now’s the perfect time to see your investment advisor or wealth manager to ensure all those accounts are set to succeed in 2018.
As I briefly touched on earlier, our tax laws have changed. And now is the perfect time to determine if you’re going to be impacted and make some adjustments.
The new tax laws came into effect at the end of 2017, so many of you may still be paying the same estimated taxes based on your 2017 earnings and your 2017 deductions. These new tax laws saw many people receiving big tax returns. However, even though the tax rates may be going down, your taxes may be going up as several deductible rules have changed or disappeared. To ensure you’re on the right path for optimal tax placement, talk to your wealth advisor today.
Additionally, this is the perfect time for you to tax harvest on your investment. Tax harvesting is when you sell one of your funds that is going down, place it in a similar fund, book the tax loss, and then 30 days later you go back to your original investment.
This will help you to keep your investment taxation on track, and ensure you’re not paying extra on losing investments.
While some of you may play the stocks yourselves (and taken a beating this year), don’t be discouraged by the thought of selling. View this as an opportunity to save some money as you take the current loss to offset future income.
When was the last time you checked on your asset allocation? Do you know how much you have in stocks, bonds, and cash? If not, now is a great opportunity to get reacquainted with your investment portfolio. You may find that you need to re-balance your equities to ensure the changes in this year’s market haven’t put you overweight in any one particular strategy.
It’s also important to note the minor increase in interest rates. If you do have a large amount of money sitting in cash, now is a good time to consider the rate of some online banks. You’ll want to be careful that these are FDIC insured, but it wouldn’t hurt to see if there are higher rates of returns out there for you.
Distribution to Heirs
I recognize this isn’t a light topic, so I promise to move through it quickly. Mid-year is a good time to review your will with your wealth manager or attorney. Life changes quickly, and you want to ensure that your will reflects that.
While a will serves to dictate where a lot of your assets go, things like 401K, IRA’s, and qualified accounts are not dictated by a will. So, in addition to ensuring your will is up to date, you will want to double check the beneficiaries of all of these financial assets through their provider.
As you likely know, there is insurance for everything these days, including your dog’s dental work. So, when you’re performing your mid-year financial check, why not take the time to make sure your policies are up to date and correct for your current circumstances (i.e. if Fido passed away his dental insurance is no longer relevant). You’ll want to make sure your policies provide you with enough coverage given your current circumstance, and that your premiums reflect your insurance needs.
I know many of us are off enjoying the summer weather right now, and your financial check list is at the back of your mind but remember this doesn’t have to be a major process. Taking an afternoon to review some documents (even on the beach) will keep you abreast of where you stand currently with your finances. Don’t wait until the end of the year when it will be too late to get back on track. If you have any questions or concerns be sure to reach out to your financial advisor to make 2018 your best money year yet.
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