Now that spring is upon us, it’s a great time to reevaluate your financial situation and make changes. While it may seem overwhelming to keep your finances on track and implement multiple financial actions at once, a seasonal approach may help.
While some financial tasks are time-sensitive, others can be completed throughout the year. Whether you tackle one task each month or over a weekend, our quarterly checklist can help keep your finances on track throughout the year:
Prepare to file your taxes- Collect W2’s, 1099’s, investment statements, charitable giving receipts, mortgage interest statements (form 1098), and other documentation on deductible items, so you are ready to file your taxes. It’s also a good idea to look at them to assess your earnings and investing habits this helps to keep your finances on track.
Review your monthly budget- Has your spending increased or decreased? How about your income? Reviewing all money in and out each month enables you to save more and reduce your outstanding debt. Now is a great time to cut out what you don’t need and cancel subscriptions and memberships you aren’t using.
Increase your retirement savings contributions- Make it a goal to increase your 401(k), IRA, or Roth IRA contributions. Setting your contributions to increase each year automatically. Maximizing your contributions helps you work toward your retirement savings goal so you can retire on your terms.
Evaluate your emergency fund- An emergency savings of six month’s-worth of costs in a cash account can help keep your finances on track. As well as prevent premature liquidation of assets. Six to twelve months of cash reserves is recommended for high-income earners or self-employed people.
Review your investment portfolio- Was the return on your investments last year what you expected? While risk/reward is part of an investment strategy, taxes and interest rates also impact portfolio performance. Schedule a meeting with a financial professional to examine how your investments performed last year. You may want to make adjustments based on your situation and goals.
Review your life insurance policies- A yearly review of your life insurance policy is essential to ensure the death benefit is enough to pay off your outstanding debt and provide for your beneficiaries for a set period. While employed, maximize your employer’s term life insurance coverage. But you may also want to consider private life insurance. So that if you leave your employer, you have coverage at a death benefit amount appropriate for you.
Review your beneficiary designations- Beneficiary designations on life insurance policies and accounts such as your 401(k), IRA, and other accounts overrides information in your will about who inherits them. Therefore, it is vital to review your life insurance policies, retirement savings accounts, investment accounts, and assets. This helps to ensure beneficiary information is in sync with your will and estate plan. Consult your legal professional for guidance. They can help teach about how listing beneficiaries impacts probate regardless of having a will or estate plan.
Revisit your will and estate plan– Legal documents are essential so that upon your death, your assets pass as you intended. If you have changed your mind on how you want your assets divided or who should receive them since you drafted your will or estate plan, now is the time to update these essential documents. This is a great way to keep your finances on track even after you pass.
Schedule tax planning meeting- Meet with your tax and financial professional to determine your tax scenario before the year ends. If you need to contribute more to your pre-tax retirement savings accounts, having four months of extra 401(k) contributions can help reduce your taxable income. Also, determine if your payroll deductions are appropriate to you and adjust if necessary. Or even retroactive if possible, to lower your taxable income.
Review or Redo your financial plan- Are you on track to reach your retirement savings goals? Review how much of your salary you invested last year and how much more you can contribute toward your retirement savings if you’re still in your accumulation phase. Now is a great time to review investment performance and adjust your investing strategy.
Suppose you are retired and spending down your retirement nest egg. In that case, a new financial plan can provide insight into how long your retirement savings may last. This may change based on today’s inflation rate, current interest rates, and other factors.
Evaluate your other types of insurance coverage- Take note of your other types of insurance in addition to your life insurance, such as property/casualty, disability, long-term care insurance, and so on. Once you review coverages with your insurance and financial professionals, you can rest assured you are adequately insured and your assets won’t deplete prematurely due to unplanned circumstances of property loss or health.
Give to charity- There are countless benefits of giving; you can make a difference in your community and society by giving through these strategies:
By completing a few financial tasks each season, you can work toward your financial goals throughout the year. Contact our office to schedule your annual review. We can review your portfolio, and insurance coverages, and start your financial plan.
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First Fruits Asset Management has been in the financial services profession since 2007. We work together to create a personalized financial plan. We then review and revise the plan as situations and/or goals change over time. Contact us today to learn more about how we can build a partnership with you today.