No matter how hard we try to hang onto the spirit of the holidays, the days continue to slip by. Piles of crumpled wrapping paper and torn boxes sit by the curb. The wheeled trash bin, unable to contain all the excess from the holidays, sits surrounded by enough stuffed garbage bags to provide any youngster with a great fort!
One more year has faded into our memories. Some of us have children who are excited to be one year closer to starting school whether it be first grade or college. Others may be excited about being nearer to the time of their first job or perhaps their wedding day. For those of us with a few grey hairs, our excitement for each passing year may not be as strong. Wanting to cherish each moment with our families, we may actually wish for time to stand still in order to forever hold those wonderful moments in the palm of our hands, gazing upon them as often as we wish.
What, wait a minute! If your family is anything like mine with the noise, the pushing and the pulling and everyone running all over the place, finding some peace and quiet may be the most desirable ticket.
During this quiet time, and before another year slips away, it’s a great idea to take stock of where you are and whether all the areas of your personal finances are up to date.
You can evaluate whether your current retirement assets plus what you are setting back each year will in fact provide the income you need during retirement. If not, taking steps now to increase what you are saving rather than waiting to increase it in the future, should allow you to use a smaller amount to meet the goal than if you wait.
Once you have confirmed your retirement is on track or have made the required corrections, a review of your estate plan should take place. If you have not reviewed your will within the last three to five years, this is also a great time to make sure all of the instructions are current and the people named in the document are still willing to fulfill their part.
Another area in need of review is your insurance needs. In some cases, this may be the most crucial. In the case of an unexpected event, such as death or sudden change in health, the opportunity to correct for the lack of coverage is lost. The areas of coverage you should review are your health, life, long-term care if you are over age 50, disability, and your property coverage on your home and auto.
If you have high school age children or younger, taking time to plan for the cost of college can also save money, reduce your taxes, and make your financial life much easier. There are tools available that will permit your investments for college to grow tax deferred and when used, to be tax-free. This is another area where the earlier you start the better.
As you take time to review your finances and get your financial life in order, during 2008 I will continue to provide guidance in the areas of personal financial planning. It is my desire that each article written answers one or more questions for you, my readers. I have enjoyed sharing my thoughts on financial planning with you. It all started more than 150 articles ago in September of 2004.
I hope to continue to receive questions from you, as these help me know the current issues facing not only my readers, but also my clients. Whether you want assistance in the form of an article written on your topic or want a more personal approach, feel free to contact my office. I wish you a happy New Year.
HOW TO REACH THE WRITER
Would you like a response to a financial question? Send your question to Doug Horn, 115 W. Broadway, Maryville, TN 37801. Be sure to mark your envelope Money Matters.
Doug Horn, CFP, is an area financial planner with more than 24 years financial experience and founder of Quality Financial Concepts, located in downtown Maryville on Broadway.
Doug Horn, CFP, Registered Investment Advisor in Tennessee and Texas and Registered Principal, Branch Office of and Securities offered through CUE Financial, Member FINRA, SIPC.