Keep the New Year as happy as possible by following these tips to protect your nest egg.
PLUS - Key Dates to Remember
1. Review (and Renew) Your Goals
If the last three years have taught us anything, it’s that long-term plans can’t ever be set in stone. Your financial goals need to be flexible as the world around us changes. Perhaps you’ve put some of your financial goals on hold, or you moved other goals into high gear. Well, a new year is a good time to re-evaluate those stances and see which benchmarks you really want to achieve over the next 12 months.
While you’re evaluating, try to remember one psychological fact: People tend to underestimate what they can do in a year, but overestimate what they can do in a week. In other words, if you think you can’t save a certain amount by the end of the year, there’s a good chance you can. Just make that your destination and work backwards, step by step, to create a roadmap for reaching it.
2. Tune Up Your Portfolio
The top of the year is as good a time as any to rebalance your portfolio. It’s like a yearly wellness visit at the doctor or an annual tune-up for your car. Look back over the last 12 months and see how your asset allocations changed, what performed better than expected, and where things could stand improvement. Most importantly, determine how your current portfolio matches your investment strategy.
Maybe your original asset allocation was 80% stocks and 20% bonds, but as the year ended, a few bonds matured or you found some unmissable stock opportunities. Now you’re at 90% stocks and 10% bonds. Well, that means your portfolio has gotten a little out of balance, and you’re taking on more risk with a more aggressive asset allocation than you originally intended. A quick chat with your advisor can give the necessary perspective to tune up your portfolio so that your strategy matches your situation.
Asset allocation does not guarantee a profit or protect against loss. Portfolios are rebalanced by buying and selling securities that have changed values in order to restore their original proportions in a portfolio. Rebalancing may result in a taxable event.
3. Make Wellness a Priority - Physical, Emotional, and Financial
The pandemic made everyone more aware of the importance of wellness, both in terms of physical health and emotional well-being. Financial wellness is part of that package, and the new year is the perfect time to make your wellness on every level a personal priority.
When looking over your portfolio, see if you’re giving yourself that ounce of prevention that can be worth a pound of cure. But more than that, see if your employer offers any wellness resources that cover your financial health as well as your physical and mental health.
Your company might offer interactive tools and financial-education programs that can open up new avenues for investment and can help you get the most out of your conversations with a financial advisor. Greater financial literacy can make you a sharper employee, but also point you towards new ways to get the most out of retirement plans, group insurance, stock options and performance shares, or other workplace benefits.
4. Check Your Credit Report
Kick off your year with a good look at your credit report and rating. These can affect major life decisions as they come up, and can determine your response to opportunities as they arise. You need the right resume to impress hiring managers to land the job of your dreams, and you need a credit report to impress lending companies and banks in order to buy a new home, drive away in a new car, or secure a small business loan. If there are problems on your report, you’ll want to know right away to take steps to correct them. Bear in mind that your credit score and your credit report are two different things, so they’ll each need to be checked separately.
5. Make (or Update) a Debt-Payment Plan
Having debt can be a good thing, as long as you manage it well. That means having an updated plan to pay it off. Consistently paying down your debt raises your credit score, which makes it easier to get a good mortgage, reasonable car payments, low-interest credit cards, or even a small-business loan. Staying on top of payments — especially with credit cards — can be vitally important for keeping a decent credit score.
If there are some debts you’ve been ignoring, the best time to face them is now. Any action, however small, is better than inaction, and you might be surprised at how effective even a little bit of attention can be. Try not to make any new purchases on a credit card that you’re paying down, and if you can, pay off the card with the highest interest rate first. Read up on the debt snowball or debt avalanche effects for paying off debt and ask an advisor which one works best for your financial situation.
Mark Your Calendar
April 1st: If you’ve just turned 73, this is the date by which you need to withdraw your required minimum distribution (RMD) from your retirement account.
For IRAs, your first RMD should be taken by April 1 of the year following the calendar year in which you reach age 73.
If you have a 401(k), profit-sharing, 403(b), or other defined contribution plan, it’s generally the April 1 following either the calendar year in which you reach age 73 , or the year in which you retire, whichever is later (if your plan allows this).
April 15th: Tax Day: Your taxes are due, unless filing an extension.
Oct 15th: Tax Day for those who got six-month extensions using Form 4868.
You have until midnight to file your Form 1040, 1040A, or 1040EZ and pay any taxes, interest, and penalties.
Oct 15th - Dec 7: Medicare open enrollment, also known as Medicare’s annual election period.
Dec 31st: If you are over 72, make sure you’ve taken your RMDs. Most required minimum distributions from retirement accounts (except for the first one) must be taken by December 31 annually to avoid a 50% tax penalty.
CONTACT US today to schedule an appointment with one of our advisors to review your financial plan.
- Wellness from here: https://www.morganstanley.com/articles/financial-planning-new-year-financial-resolutions
- Background: https://www.legendlakewood.com/blog/why-you-should-have-a-financial-plan
- Dates and four steps: https://www.legendlakewood.com/blog/5-steps-for-financial-planning-in-the-new-year-and-important-dates-to-keep
- “Mark Your Calendar”: https://www.schwab.com/learn/story/congress-passes-major-boost-to-retirement-savings#:~:text=The%20most%20notable%20provision%20in,will%20increase%20again%2C%20to%2075.
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