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10 Financial Steps to Take in 2018 Thumbnail

10 Financial Steps to Take in 2018

It’s a new year full of new opportunities! Use these 10 financial steps as your guide to setting new financial goals and exploring strategies to help you grow your wealth.

1. Set and revise your financial goals

Has your income increased or decreased since last year? Are you planning to take a vacation? Or maybe you’re getting ready to make a significant purchase, such as a rental property or a new vehicle.

Either way, it’s likely that your finances have changed in some way since last year. Set yourself up for success by revising current goals and setting new ones.

Whether you write your goals in a journal or type them into a document, make a plan to revisit them every month. Make your monthly meeting official by setting it up in your calendar. This way, you’re more likely to stay on top of your goals and update them as you go along.

2. Increase Your Savings

If you don’t increase your savings on a regular basis, you might experience financial challenges later on.

Have a look at your 401k plan and see if you can increase your contributions. If so, this tweak could help you boost your savings.  Increase your contributions in order to help accelerate your savings.

I also recommend setting up a pre-authorized transfer that will automatically move money from your savings account into your investment account. Remember, the earlier you start adding to this account, the more time that money will have to grow!  

3. Think about tax planning

Meet with your accountant and financial planner to find out what adjustments you should make in light of the new tax reform.  

For example, since standard deductions have increased, a lot of people may no longer be able to itemize their deductions. Some taxpayers may then end up in a lower tax bracket. You may want to consider contributing to a Roth account instead of a traditional retirement plan, such as a 401k or a savings plan.

People who end up in a lower tax bracket may also decide to focus on paying off their mortgages since mortgages no longer provide the same tax cushion as they used to.

4. Consider investing - Investment Asset Allocation

It’s time to consider where we’re investing our money. While stocks have been on a tremendous run for the past eight years, remember that nothing lasts forever!

You may choose to rebalance your funds by moving your money to other vehicles to mitigate risk. I also recommend that you look at your overall allocation to see if it’s in line with your time goals. Also, regarding allocation, you’ll want to consider your risk tolerance, current market conditions, and your taxes.

5. Review your insurance coverage

Review your insurance coverage a least once a year to make sure it’s up-to-date and that you’re fully covered. A lot can happen in a year, including changes to our income and family situation. Make sure you have adequate insurance to help protect yourself against long-term illnesses and other health issues that may arise.

Have you purchased a new house or an engagement ring since last year? Make sure that all of your valuable possessions are insured.  Don’t be afraid to shop around and compare quotes!

6. Is college planning in your future?

If we’re planning to help our children or grandchildren with college costs, then we need to factor that into our financial planning.

Fortunately, 529 plans have expanded under the new tax reform.  In addition to college-related expenses, 529 plans can now be used for expenses associated with elementary and secondary schools, including private school tuition.

Also, be sure to gather information early.  How much does tuition cost each year (keep in mind that this fee may increase year by year)? What are the residence fees? How much will it cost your student’s meal plan or monthly groceries? And of course, how much of these fees will you be covering? Perhaps, the soon-to-be college student will be applying for a loan or contributing money from a part-time job.

Either way, research expenses early in order to set a specific financial goal.

7. Review your estate plan

The new tax law has made a big impact in estate planning because high worth individuals now receive a significant benefit in the doubling of the estate tax limit. This higher limit should be something to consider since many long-term plans have been planned at a lower limit.

Be sure to review your will at least once per year to make sure everything is in order. All of the beneficiaries must be set, along with health care proxies and power of attorneys. Check in with your financial planner if you’re not sure whether you have all the details covered.

8. Aging Parents - It is time to talk to your aging parents

These aren’t easy conversations to have with our parents, but it’s essential that we talk to our parents about what kind of support they need now and what they might need in future.

Will your parents need help paying bills? Will they need a hand with household tasks or running errands? Consider what you can offer your parents, financially and time-wise, and then adjust your financial plan accordingly.

9. Make a plan for charitable Giving

People who can no longer itemize their deductions under the new tax law will not be able to deduct donations to nonprofit organizations. If you’re in that very scenario, you may choose to donate appreciated stocks instead of cash. You can also opt to donate. You can also opt to give non-financial items, such as clothes and household objects.

Of course, you may choose to donate money to a charity despite the changes to the tax law. Choose a charity that is close to your heart and remember to set a financial goal for how much money you’d like to give.

10. Create your own financial plan

You can tie all of these steps together in a financial plan.  Make sure this plan includes a vision statement. This is a future-based statement that lays out what you’d like to achieve in the future. Project five to 10 years in the future and consider what you’d like your lifestyle, career, and financial situation to look. By writing a vision statement, you’re creating a guide that you can use to help inform your financial goals and everyday decision making.

Enlist the help of a financial planner if you’d like a hand with designing your financial plan. I hope these 10 steps will help guide you towards financial success in 2018 and the years to come!