Get in Financial Shape in 2019
By: Bill Van Sant, SVP and Managing Director, Girard
Many people kickoff the New Year with resolutions such as improving their diet, exercising or reading more books. While these are all great goals, another important resolution to consider is to get into better financial shape in 2019! Here is what your ‘workout’ should look like:
While many people choose to ignore debt, you need a plan to pay it off. Start by documenting exactly how much you owe, to whom and what interest rate you are paying. Is the rate fixed or variable? If you are paying a variable rate, which is the case for most credit cards, the amount you pay in interest is going up as the Federal Reserve has been raising interest rates over the last several years. Tackle debt with the highest interest rate or variable rates first either through refinancing with a fixed rate or an aggressive plan to paying off what is owed.
Additionally, consider limiting yourself to one credit card. Carrying smaller balances on several credit cards can make the total amount of debt deceiving and is an easy way to find yourself drowning in debt.
Update your Estate Planning Documents
Make sure you have the appropriate legal documents in place such as a will and power of attorney. Then, each year, you should review these documents especially if there have been changes in your family such as welcoming a child (or grandchild), getting divorced or remarried, etc. Make sure these documents are up-to-date and outline exactly how you wish your assets to be managed if you are not able to do so due to incapacitation or death. Also, make sure ALL of your life insurance, annuities, and IRA’s have the correct primary and contingent beneficiaries listed because these assets, upon your death, pass directly to your beneficiaries.
Easier said than done, right? To free up some dollars to contribute more to savings, consider shopping your cable, homeowners/car insurance, and cell phone bills to see if you can secure a better deal. These savings can add up! Then take the money you are saving each month and give yourself a “retirement raise” by increasing your retirement savings by 1-2%.
Do a Comprehensive Investment Review
Gather all of your year-end investment statements (e.g. 401(k), brokerage, college savings plans) and bring them to your Wealth Advisor. Your advisor can help you understand how the money in these various accounts is invested and determine if they are on target to meet your financial goals. Additionally, if you have not done so are already, consider taking time to start a financial plan. A formal plan can serve as a financial “GPS” providing direction to help ensure your finances are on pace to meet your long term goals.
Consider these tips if you’re striving to get in better financial shape this year. Our financial advisors are here to help. Contact us to get a conversations started.