New Year, New You: Financial Planning Tips for the New Year (Part 2 of 2)
Tick-tock, tick-tock! That’s the sound of 2016 dwindling down. The countdown is officially on—and believe it or not, 2017 will be here in just a couple of weeks. When you think about your New Year’s resolutions for the upcoming year, make it a point to also think about your financial planning resolutions. The beginning of the New Year is an opportune time to implement new or revised financial planning tips, goals, and resolutions because not only does the New Year signify a fresh start but also it is the beginning of the new tax and fiscal year. In the previously published Summit Brokerage blog entitled “New Year, New You: Financial Planning Tips for the New Year (Part 1 of 2),” we discussed four different financial planning tips for the New Year that you may want to consider. In the instant blog, which is the second and final part of this blog series, we present to you the following four additional financial planning tips and resolutions you may want to consider for the upcoming New Year:
Organize your finances by automating your bill payments: Getting organized is always a popular New Year’s resolution. This year, make sure your New Year’s organization plan includes an organizational plan specifically for your finances. Organizing your finances will help you get ahead, minimize stress, make sure things run smoothly, and pay off (as in more money in your pocket!) in the New Year. We already discussed tracking your spending to create a livable budget for the New Year in the first part of this previously published Summit blog. Another way to organize your finances in the New Year is to consider automating your recurring bill payments (i.e., mortgage payment, cable/wireless/phone bill, utilities bill, insurance payments, credit card payments, and etc.). By automating these bill payments, you’ll never have to worry about missing a bill payment (and can resultantly avoid unnecessary late fees, penalties, and interest payments). As an added incentive, some lenders and creditors will offer you a better deal or a lower interest pate if you use automatic bill pay. However, keep in mind that you should not use automatic bill payment with a bank account that has a low balance or that may not have enough money in it to cover the full amount of your automated bill deductions—you don’t want to overdraft or default on these automatic bill payments. Also, just because you’re using automatic bill payment doesn’t mean you don’t need to manually review each and every one of your bills for accuracy.
Organize your finances by planning ahead for tax time: While preparing and filing your annual tax returns is not exactly a fun activity, you can simplify the arduous process and eliminate a chunk of unnecessary stress by planning ahead for tax time. Create (and then use!) a folder for your 2017 tax documents such as but not limited to: relevant receipts (i.e., receipts for charitable donations and business expenses), investment documents and information, retirement account statements and balances, accrued interest statements, expense reports, and income statements. While you should always maintain a secure folder or file with paper copies of these important tax documents, some people find it helpful to also take photos of relevant paperwork and then email themselves the photo or add the photo to a secure digital folder within their computer’s or smartphone’s cloud storage system.
Create or Review Your Estate Planning Documents: Some of the most important documents typically contained in an estate plan include but are not limited to: will, durable power of attorney, health care power of attorney, living will, revocable living trust, and funeral/burial instructions. Do you have an estate plan? If no, then you should seriously consider creating one as soon as possible. It’s a common myth that estate plans are only for the wealthy. This is not true! Most people, especially if they have a bank account or retirement savings account, are married or in a domestic partnership or serious relationship, and/or have kids or a family, could benefit from making an estate plan and planning ahead for what will happen if they happen to become incapacitated or die. If you don’t have an estate plan and you become incapacitated, you and your property may end up in a court-supervised legal guardianship. And if you die, then your family and loves ones may end up in lengthy and expensive probate court battles and your property will likely not be divvied up in the way you would have desired. To create an estate plan, it is in your best interests to work with a licensed attorney who is experienced in the legal formalities of creating and executing an estate plan in your state. If you already have an estate plan, it is prudent and strongly encouraged that you review it every year or every time there has been significant changes in your life (i.e., you got married, had a child, had a significant change in assets, and etc.) since you signed your initial estate planning documents. Annual reviews of your estate plan are encouraged because there may have been changes in relevant federal and state laws that went into effect after the initial date you signed your estate planning documents.
Get professional financial advice from a financial advisor: If you aren’t already working with a financial advisor or planner, strongly consider working with one in the New Year. For best results and professional financial planning tips, you need to approach your financial goals, plans, and resolutions with a proactive mindset. A financial advisor or planner can help you with this by working with you to create a carefully constructed financial and investment plan. You don’t need to be wealthy or established to begin working with a financial advisor or planner. Keep in mind that while it will cost you money to work with a financial advisor or planner, working with one and heeding his or her advice will often help save and make money in the future that will offset this expense.
About Summit Brokerage Services, Inc.
Summit Brokerage Services is part of Cetera Financial Group. Summit Brokerage provides a broad range of securities brokerage and investment services to primarily individual investors. Summit Brokerage also sells insurance products, predominantly fixed and variable annuities and life insurance through its subsidiary, SBS Insurance Agency of Florida. Summit Brokerage also provides asset management services through its investment advisor, Summit Financial Group, Inc.
About Cetera Financial Group
Cetera Financial Group® (“Cetera”) is a leading network of independent retail broker-dealers empowering the delivery of objective financial planning advice to individuals, families and company retirement plans across the country through trusted financial advisors and financial institutions. Cetera is the second-largest independent financial advisor network in the nation by number of advisors, as well as a leading provider of retail services to the investment programs of banks and credit unions.
Through its multiple distinct firms, Cetera offers independent and institutions-based advisors the benefits of a large, established broker-dealer and registered investment adviser, while serving advisors and institutions in a way that is customized to their needs and aspirations. Advisor support resources offered through Cetera include award-winning wealth management and financial planning and advisory platforms, comprehensive broker-dealer and registered investment adviser services, practice management support and innovative technology. For more information, visit www.ceterafinancialgroup.com.
*”Cetera Financial Group” refers to the network of retail independent broker-dealers encompassing, among others, Cetera Advisors, Cetera Advisor Networks, Cetera Financial Institutions, Cetera Financial Specialists, First Allied Securities, Girard Securities, The Legend Group and Summit Brokerage Services.