When you’re spring cleaning your house and yard this year, don’t forget your finances.
Just as your house doesn’t clean itself, your money can get messy if you ignore it – and even messy enough to jeopardize your retirement goals if you’re not careful. With that in mind, today I’m going to share some Financial Spring-Cleaning Tips. I’ll cover tips to help you: Get organized; decrease your spending and increase your savings; and to make sure you keep your eyes on the prize: achieving your retirement goals.
Let’s start with getting organized. If you’re like many people, your finances might need cleaning not just figuratively but literally. You might have many important documents stored and poorly organized in paper form only. Go through them and throw out what you don’t need. Shred or burn what you throw out to avoid the possibility of identity theft. Consider scanning the rest and storing them on your computer – and back them up to be safe. Next, review all your insurance policies to make sure they’re still right for your current needs. Reach out to your insurance providers to talk about opportunities to lower your rates without compromising your coverage. A lower monthly rate means you’ll have more money to funnel into savings or pay off debts. Which brings me to my next spring-cleaning tip: review your plan for paying down debt – or make a plan if you don’t already have one. If you feel overwhelmed or aren’t sure where to start, reach out to a credit counseling agency for help.
Now, let’s talk about some ways to help you decrease what you spend and increase what you save. First review your monthly budget – or start keeping one if you’re not already. Take a hard look at your discretionary spending – things like clothes, gadgets, entertainment and so forth – and set limits. Then, put all your so-called necessary expenses under the same microscope and look for opportunities to save. Next, cancel unused or unnecessary subscriptions. Try this exercise: List every subscription you pay for, whether monthly or yearly. This means streaming services, computer software, gym and club memberships, magazines, et cetera. After you have the list, ask yourself: Do I use this subscription multiple times a week, and/or does it make my life noticeably better? If the answer is no, cancel the subscription. Next, plan and budget for irregular expenses for the rest of the year – things like wedding and birthday gifts, vacation spending, and Christmas shopping. The best way to handle irregular expenses is to set aside a savings account specifically for them. Don’t try to guess how much you’ll need to cover these expenses. Instead, give yourself a limit and save toward that amount.
Now, let’s talk about some more ways to save that are geared toward your retirement. First, adjust your tax withholding if necessary. Talk with your employer or consult a tax professional if needed to help ensure you’re having just the right amount taken out of your paycheck. Overpaying on your taxes – or underpaying and getting hit with penalties come tax time – means you have less money to funnel into your retirement savings account. Which brings us to my next tip: try to maximize your retirement account contributions if you’re not already doing so – and take advantage of catch-up contributions if you’re 50 or older. Then, review your retirement accounts with your financial advisor to help ensure they’re on track with your goals. That tees up my next tip: review your financial goals, starting with your long-term goals. Once you’re clear on those, you can work backward and set shorter term goals for the next two-to-five years. Then you can narrow those down to your financial goals for this year.
Now, let’s talk more about making sure your current actions are in line with your future goals. I just mentioned the importance of setting your long-term goals for retirement if you haven’t yet, but I want to stress that one again because it’s crucial. Next, review your asset allocation. The fact is, your ideal asset allocation changes over time. When you’re in your 30s and 40s, your financial goals are mainly growth-based. For most people, it can make sense to have an allocation geared toward growth through capital appreciation. But once you’re past age 50, you’re getting closer to the time when your priorities will shift. With retirement getting closer, you’ll need to start thinking about how your assets are going to help generate reliable income. But that’s not all. You’ll also need an asset allocation and an overall strategy that helps protect you from the eroding effects of inflation for up to 30 years, helps minimize your tax burden, helps maximize your Social Security, helps satisfy your required minimum distributions without cannibalizing your principal, is right for your risk tolerance, helps allow you to continue growing your portfolio organically and with less risk, and helps reduce your stress. And, of course, is aligned with your specific retirement goals. In my experience, these are just some of the benefits of having the right income-based financial strategy – an actively managed strategy geared toward interest and dividend return and designed to work regardless of market conditions.
Investment Advisory Services offered through Sound Income Strategies, LLC, an SEC Registered Investment Advisory Firm. Arbor Financial Services of Florida, Inc. and Sound Income Strategies, LLC are not associated entities. Arbor Financial Services of Florida, Inc. is a franchisee of the Retirement Income Store. The Retirement Income Store and Sound Income Strategies LLC are associated entities.