If you live in the Northeast part of the country today, chances are you are at home watching the beautiful snow fall and dreading the inevitable snow shoveling that is sure to follow. Today is the perfect day for you and your family to take advantage of the lull in your busy lives by taking a closer look at your financial forecast for the year. For example, you could review the following:
- Spending – Review your 2016 spending. Does your spending reflect your priorities? If not, make a plan to adjust your spending for 2017. If you aren’t tracking expenses, consider using our Personal Financial Website (eMoney) or a budget app like Quicken or Mint.com to track your expenses for 2017.
- Savings – Set goals for how much you would like to save in 2017. If your rainy day fund is low (it should be equal to 3-6 months of expenses), focus on building this fund up first. Make sure that your retirement and education contributions are consistent with your savings goals. Consider setting up automatic monthly transfers to a savings, education or retirement account to ensure that your goals are attained.
- Company Retirement Plans – Check your contribution rate for your retirement plan (i.e. 401(k) Plan) and make sure that your monthly or bi-monthly contributions from your paycheck will allow you to maximize your pre-tax contributions for 2017 ($18,000 per individual plus $6,000 catch-up contribution if you are over 50 years old). Verify that your asset allocation in your retirement plan is consistent with your financial plan.
- Beneficiaries – Log into your custodian’s (Schwab or Fidelity) website and check to make sure that your beneficiary information and account titling is correct and consistent with your estate plan for all of your accounts.
- Tax Preparation – April 15th is just around the corner. Take some time today to gather your tax documents in advance of tax preparation season. Check the withholding rate on your 2016 pay stub and consider whether adjustments to your withholding rate are necessary for 2017.
- Insurance – Review your insurance policies and coverage, considering the purpose for your insurance coverage and whether the levels are appropriate. If you aren’t sure whether adjustments are necessary, reach out to your financial advisor.
- Estate Planning – Dig through your files and locate your will, power of attorney(s) and advanced directives. Are they up to date? Do they properly reflect your current intentions? If not, reach out to your attorney and schedule an appointment today.
- Credit Report – If you haven’t reviewed your credit report recently, consider ordering a free credit report (https://www.ftc.gov/faq/consumer-protection/get-my-free-credit-report) today. Review the report to ensure that the information is correct and take the time to close any credit cards that you aren’t using.
- Get Organized – Is all of your financial information organized and accessible? If you were to be incapacitated today, could a family member or close friend access your accounts, understand which bills need to be paid and understand how your financial information is organized? If not, start getting organized and share your organizational approach with a trusted family member or friend. Consider using a password manager (such as, LastPass or mSecure) to ensure that all your passwords are secure and organized.
Even if there is no snow in your forecast, take the time to review your financial situation and make sure that 2017 is off to a good start.