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:
Spring is a great time to:
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.
Summer is a hot time to:
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.
As the leaves begin to Fall:
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.
Winter is the perfect time to:
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:
- Donor-Advised Funds: A donor-advised fund allows you to donate cash or securities, which are non-refundable to a non-profit organization.
- Charitable Trusts: The two types of charitable trusts you may want to incorporate into your financial plan. Either charitable lead trusts (CLTs) or charitable remainder trusts (CRTs). Consult your legal and financial professionals if you plan to include securities in your trust.
Talk to your tax professional to keep your finances on track.
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.
SWG 2726910-0323b The sources used to prepare this material are believed to be true, accurate and reliable, but are not guaranteed. This information is provided as general information and is not intended to be specific financial or tax guidance. When you access a link you are leaving our website and assume total responsibility for your use of the website you are linking to. We make no representation as to the completeness or accuracy of information provided at this website. Nor is the company liable for any direct or indirect technical or system issues or any consequences arising out of your access to or your use of third-party technologies, websites, information and programs made available through this website.
Ronald A. Bartlett & Associates, LTD. are Registered Investment Advisors and has been working with the Communication Workers of America since 2007. In addition, at Ronald A. Bartlett & Associates, we know that it is your retirement, and you should have control over it. We offer our experience and knowledge to help you design a custom strategy for financial independence. In conclusion, contact us today to schedule an introductory meeting!