Cheers and goodbye to 2008 - ring in 2009

New Years is the opportunity to start something new, as well the chance to close a chapter. New promises are made and dreams created. This year hope is in the midst. A new administration will begin Jan. 20, with many turning to the new administration in the hopes they find the solution to the U.S. recession.

Whether your New Year’s resolution involves shedding the few pounds gained during the last year, completing an education, finding a new job, spending more time with family, restoring a relationship, or rebuilding financial security, they all begin with a desire and then a step. Almost every one I speak with in my practice wants to achieve financial security. Many have taken steps to fund employer savings plans or individual retirement accounts, but still need assistance coordinating the many facets of financial security.

Financial security includes providing for loved ones when the bank balances are not large enough. Another piece of financial security includes creating a written plan for the distribution of assets or the future care of children. Making sure there are sufficient funds to cover small emergencies as well as those that may occur once in five or ten years is also part of the financial security dream. It includes being able to weather financial storms such as the one we are in now or the loss of a job when others are counting on the income to put food on the table and pay the monthly bills. Financial security includes all of these things; and for some, additional steps may be required.

This January in addition to the more traditional resolutions, please take the time to review the financial plan you have in place and determine if it will take care of your family as you desire and your future. If not, it is time to seek assistance from a professional.

It is at this point when I am often surprised. Last week, my heating system went out, and I did not have a second thought about calling my HVAC professional. When there have been electrical or plumbing issues, professionals in the related field were called and my issue resolved. For me and thousands like me, whether the problem is something small like a disposal or complicated like today’s automobile, when it breaks it is a call to the professional. But, for some reason, there are thousands of individuals trying to manage their investments, create financial security, or prepare their estate plan without the assistance of an expert in these fields. I guess if the task does not take special tools or manual labor, then many appear to believe anyone must be able to handle the task.

Speaking with over 25 years of experience, managing investments, creating financial security, or preparing an estate plan does require special tools and a significant amount of mental labor. Today’s investment products may appear simple, but their complexity is astounding. While it may look simple to select the best stocks, mutual funds, bonds or real estate, the task is not as easy as it may appear. Just as today’s car is far more complex than those of the 1960s, the same can be said of investment choices.

Is there a time when it is better to own individual stocks than mutual funds? Are exchange traded funds (ETFs) just like mutual funds? When stocks are down like they are today, is it better to be in something more ‘safe’ like bonds? When is the best time to move back into equities? With the market down as it is today, could there be an opportunity to potentially double an investment in less than 7 years? As we continue to live longer, will your income last? Is there a way to create additional income that you cannot outlive?

These are just a few of the questions I hear with regularity from clients. Other times, those I am meeting do not know the questions to ask. If you do not know the answer to these questions, then you too should seek professional assistance in managing financial assets.

Just like bull markets, recessions offer unique opportunities for those who know financial markets or where to obtain quality assistance. This recession will end, and the economy and markets will once again grow. While it may be desirable to sell out of this market and sit on the sidelines until it is “safe,” there are ways to take advantage of the current markets and make smart investments.

From all of us at Quality Financial Concepts, we wish you a Happy New Year! For those of you needing assistance in my field of expertise, please contact me at QFC. If we are not the firm for you, there are other Certified Financial Planners in our area. For 2009, find a financial professional who can assist you in reaching financial security.

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