Getting Your Financial House in Order
Getting your financial house in order
The new year gives people a chance to reflect on the one just passed – to reevaluate, and to make improvements upon how they plan to tackle the one ahead. But like fad diets and fleeting gym memberships, the new year should not be the impetus to shake up your finances in hopes of ringing in 2024 as a completely new person.
Instead, the new year is a time to check in, and gauge the progress your investments are making. More than investments, a new year is the perfect opportunity to ensure that your retirement, insurance, estate – your legacy – is exactly where you want it to be.
With that in mind, this simple client checklist was designed, not with the intent of guaranteeing a windfall in the new year, but with your peace of mind at the forefront. This easy-to-follow guide will be even more effective when paired with in a sit down meeting (either in person or online) .
More than Numbers
Retirement will come for all of us. For some of us, it is probably not going to look like the same retirement that our parents and grandparents had. With the widespread adoption of remote working, many people will be able to work as they please – whether as a supplement to their retirement income, or simply as a way of keeping busy.
Whatever retirement looks like for you and your family, a lot of people occupy themselves with hitting an arbitrary dollar amount of assets. While striving towards, and taking the necessary steps to achieve a goal is never a bad thing, becoming paralyzed by a number is not very helpful.
Focus on doing your best
Instead of obsessing over that one, five, ten million dollar portfolio number, think about the little improvements you can make to your current financial situation. Perhaps that means looking at your bank statements from last year to see how you spent your income, and eliminating anything that jumps out at you. It could also mean taking full advantage of your company's 401(k) matching, or setting up a direct debit to an IRA. Like dieting or exercise, the point is not to exhaust yourself into an ascetic lifestyle, it is to make incremental changes that can improve your (financial) health.
Here at Berer Financial, we can help you make the most out of the upcoming year by creating customized budgets designed to maximize the potential of your current earnings. We can walk you through the necessary steps in order to ensure that your assets are working towards a future that works for you.
Time is a factor
Whether retirement is just around the corner, or a long way off, time is an extremely important factor in building assets. Even if you would like to get to the point where you can save one thousand dollars a month, saving one hundred a month starting today is a simple head start towards building habits – and earning interest. Compound interest is one of the most powerful tools in building wealth, so the advantages of making changes now cannot be understated.
While Berer Financial does not provide tax advice, it can still be very beneficial for us to review your past (and upcoming) tax returns for strategic planning purposes. By getting a better understanding of your tax bracket, sources of income, and how you are taxed, we can customize plans that take advantage of any strategies you may have overlooked.
Securing Your Legacy
Our biggest focus is on helping clients secure a legacy that will provide for the people and things they care most about. Whether it is liaising with your attorneys to ensure the smooth transfer of assets, building insurance portfolios to protect your loved ones, or designing trusts to fund charities, we like to think that our clients' legacies are too important to leave to chance.
Review your will
Life happens. Families get bigger, and families shrink. Sometimes our priorities change as we get older. So it is possible that your will could reflect wishes that are no longer up to date.
Because life is always changing, the new year presents a great opportunity to review your estate. Periodically checking in is one of the best ways to make sure that everything is how it should be, and that you can be comfortable in the knowledge that your legacy is secure.
Discuss any changes with your legal team and your beneficiaries to make sure they know what you want. By keeping your last will and testament accurate, you can help guide your family towards finding peace.
Do you need a trust?
Financial situations vary widely from client to client. Some people will find that their mix of assets and insurance is perfectly suited to minimize the taxes on their estate, while providing the maximum dollar amount to their loved ones. For others that prefer a more tailored solution to the dispersion of their assets, a living trust might be the answer.
Trusts allow the owner of the trust, or grantor, to decide – with intricate detail – how and when their assets are distributed after they die. Depending on your personal situation, you might find that a trust can help preserve your assets, and be an effective tool to protect your family. If you would like to learn more about whether a trust can benefit your situation, please do not hesitate to set up a meeting.
Life insurance check
A lot of people buy life insurance when they have kids to protect their growing family against the loss of their income. But as is the continuing theme of this new year check-up, life changes. Your kids have grown up since you purchased your life policies, and are possibly headed off college – or maybe have had children of their own who could use looking after. Can your family maintain their current standard of living given the value of insurance that was calculated using the salary you earned in your early 30's?
You may have moved houses, or cities, and could have financial obligations that a younger version of you would have never predicted. Insurance is an invaluable tool in legacy planning, but it is at its best when implemented as a living representation of your future financial situation.
Look through your policies and have an honest discussion with yourself or your loved ones about whether your insurance coverage is sufficient to preserve your legacy. Along with investing, time is an enormous factor, so the sooner you act, the better the rates could be for your insurance policies.
Retirement does not have to be intimidating
Retirement is in each of our futures, a goal for many of us, and a huge reason why we are here. It requires planning and saving while we are still able to work, for the time when we are no longer able to. In an ideal world, retirement can start when we no longer want to work. With proper planning, retirement should, and can be something worth looking forward to.
One of the biggest concerns for people entering retirement is transitioning from employer-sponsored health insurance to a private plan/medicare. Signing up for Medicare can seem tedious, but with our decades of experience, enrollment is a straightforward process that can secure the lasting protection you will need as a retiree. From deciding on when to enroll, or planning the transition itself, we can help make sure that you get the coverage you need at a cost that makes sense for you.
Long term care/nursing home insurance
The cost of healthcare can be greatly magnified by long term care expenses or nursing home bills. These can quickly drain your retirement assets, thereby burdening your family with any remaining costs. By adding long term care protection to your existing portfolio, you can greatly reduce the possible costs your family may incur should you need that heightened level of care.
As you get older, the types of assets in your portfolio tend to change. The general rule being that younger folks can afford to be aggressive (stocks), and as people age, they should seek more stability (bonds/cash).
Risk tolerances, however, vary widely from person to person, as everyone has a different comfort zone when it comes to their money. So an annual review of your portfolio is a great way to keep your finances in line with your expectations. As always, do not hesitate to get in touch if something in your life has changed, and you would like to discuss a new goal or vision.
Creating Retirement Income
The new year is a great opportunity to review your projected retirement income. Because interest rates have risen, you can now create more income with less dollars. One million dollars in a 1.5% CD generates about $15,000/year in interest. A 4% on the other hand, would only requires $375,000 in order to create that same $15,000 interest.
Understanding your portfolio income projections can go a long way towards deciding which investments make the most sense for your plan, and when you might need to adjust your allocations.
Turning your decades of hard work into a liveable, reliable stream of retirement income is one of the most important aspects of what we do. Through a well balanced approach to wealth management, our goal is to help you reach a point where you can relax and enjoy the fruits of your dedication.
The apex of a solid retirement plan is the income conversion strategy. If you would like to discuss converting your assets to income, or want to know more about what needs to happen in order to get to a place where you can, please set up a meeting. I would love to talk with you.