As you spruce up your house and garden this spring, don't forget that your investments may have gotten a little dusty too. Taking time to spruce up your personal finances can reap both immediate and long-term benefits. With summer right around the corner, you'll want to be outdoors. So in the interest of time, here is a quick checklist of things to consider, why they’re important, and links to additional resources.
Revisit Your Goals
Why: Different goals require different investment strategies. Your long-term goals will not change every year, but it’s a good idea to revisit what you wrote down last year in case something has changed. Is a down payment on a new home still your first priority? Your goals and priorities will guide you through the next steps.
Reconsider Your Investments
Why: Based on your current goals and priorities, you could be saving too much for a down payment or children's college tuition and not enough for retirement. The new home may still be nice at some point, but you may decide that determining a plan to fund your retirement sets your mind at ease. Remember you can always borrow money for a child's education; retirement expenses, however, don’t usually come with financing options.
Re-balance your investments
Why: After the last three years of volatility in the market, the allocations between stocks, bonds and other investments in your portfolio are probably nowhere near the percentages they were a year ago - or where you'd like. Did you significantly increase your cash holdings out of fear and now the extended period of low interest rates has you pondering what to do next? Does your allocation between foreign and domestic stock reflect the new world economy? Are you overweight in areas of political unrest that increase your risk? Revisiting your investments at least annually is an important step toward reducing the risk of not reaching your goals.
Consider a financial planner
Why: If your financial goals are unclear, have changed significantly, or you have a nagging sense you could be doing better, it may be time to consider a financial planner. Find planners at the Financial Planning Association.
Walk a loved one through your financial affairs
Why: If you were to die, could your family members find all of your financial information and easily transition your accounts as you wish? If not, show them where the digital and paper files, safety deposit box, and legal papers are. (See Your Digital Assets: What Happens After You’re Gone? )
Read your tax return
Why: There's plenty to learn about your financial well-being by seeing your complete tax return. For example, is your investment income, including interest, capital gains and dividends, adequate?
College Cost Calculator, College Board
401(k) Savings Calculator
The Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards Inc. maintains a database of people who have passed its test, as does the Financial Planning Association
Heidi Clute, CFP® of Clute Wealth Management in South Burlington, VT and Plattsburgh, NY, an independent firm and registered investment advisor that provides strategic financial and investment planning for individuals and small businesses in the Champlain Valley region of New York and Vermont. Clute Wealth Management and LPL are separate entities. The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations.