What can you do in 2019 to get ahead financially? These five smart money moves will put you on the fast track to strengthen your financial profile. Try any of these best practices or take on the entire list. Either way, you’ll be that much ahead when 2020 rolls around.
- Review those plans! A fresh new year can be a great time to review and renew your investment plan – or create one, if you’ve not yet done so. Have any of your personal goals changed, or will they soon? How could this impact your investment mix? Have market conditions put your portfolio ahead of or behind? Are you unsure where you stand to begin with? It’s time well-spent to periodically ensure your plan remains relevant to you and your personal circumstances.
- Be prepared …just in case. No one could have predicted the fires or the floods Sonoma County has seen the past few years. Cars break done, roofs need repair and life throws us curve balls more than we like to admit. Having sufficient liquid, rainy-day reserves to tide you through any rough patches is a best practice no matter what the future holds. Knowing your near-term spending needs are covered should help with both the practical and emotional challenges involved in leaving the rest of your portfolio fully invested as planned, even if the markets take a turn for the worse
- Identify financial factors in need of attention. Take time to redirect some attention to any number of related financial and advanced planning activities. Things change, and that’s why it’s worth reviewing your financial landscape on a regular basis and identifying areas in need of attention. Maybe you’ve got a debt load you’d like to reduce, or an estate plan that’s no longer relevant. Perhaps it’s been a while since you’ve reviewed your insurance policies, or you’d like to revisit your philanthropic goals in the context of the latest tax laws. Reviewing any or all of these items is likely to contribute more to your financial success than will fussing over the stock market’s daily gyrations.
- Tighten up your cyber-security. With identify theft on the rise, protecting yourself against cybercrime is a smart use of your time. Consider revisiting a few basic, protective steps, such as: changing key passwords on your most sensitive login accounts; reviewing your credit reports; keeping passwords in a safe place or use a password vault like LastPass or 1Password. When available, use two-factor authentication to increase your online security.
- Have that talk with your kids, your parents, or both. When is the last time you’ve held any conversations about your family wealth with your loved ones? It’s never too soon to begin preparing your children or grandchildren for a financially literate adulthood. As they mature, additional in-depth conversations in order. Children should know how to find crucial information should there be an unexpected illness or crisis. They should know where you keep important documents, your safety deposit key, and other critical papers.
The Talk with parents can be difficult, but important. What are their wishes or plans if dementia, disability or death take their tolls? Armed with their information, you’ll be prepared to handle whatever comes up.
You may also want to consider holding ongoing conversations related to any legacy you’d like to leave as a family. For all these considerations and more, an annual “money talk” is crucial to successful outcomes.
Above all else, remember what your money is there for your financial security and to fund your moments of meaning.
Next time you find your stomach tightening at the latest frightening or exciting financial news, tune it out. Walk away. Go do something you love, with those whose company you cherish. You’ll have peace of mind because you know you’ve taken steps to make your best money moves this year, for now and the future.