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financing strategies

6 Financing Strategies, Tips for Making This Year A Financial Success

Six Financing Strategies for Making This Year A Financial Success


Happy New Year! Would you like to make this your best year financially? Now is a great time to make some small changes that can help you finish 2013 strong. Change can be overwhelming — especially when you may also have some other New Year’s resolutions that you are focusing on. Working with a qualified financial planner to reach your goals will provide you with additional advice and support in sticking to your discipline.

But in the meantime, here is an easy-to-implement calendar of one tip for every two months of the year to help you move closer to your goals.

6 financing strategies for 2013

January/February

Make this the month for organization. Gather up all of your paid bills, receipts and other documents from 2012, and organize them for taxes. Set up a folder where you can place tax documents as they begin to arrive this month and next. Also, set up a simple system (paper or electronic) for filing away your documents for 2013 to avoid papers piling up throughout the year. Finally, schedule an appointment with your CPA to have your tax returns prepared.

March/April

Get your tax returns filed and have an estimate of your 2013 tax liability calculated so there won’t be any nasty tax surprises. Using a CPA to prepare your taxes can pay for itself if you work with someone who gives you tax planning strategies each year. So if you aren’t using one already, find a reputable CPA and ask them to provide you with some planning ideas each year. Then, implement them.

May/June

Set up a system to track your spending. You can’t improve what you don’t measure, so decide on whether you are a notebook and pencil, Excel spreadsheet, Quicken or Mint.com person, and start tallying. Prepare for an eye-opening experience if you haven’t done this before because it can be surprising to see where your hard-earned cash is going. But, trust in the process. This is a very valuable exercise. Commit to tracking for at least 90 days.

July/August

Create a debt payoff strategy. List all of your current debts, including credit cards, auto loans, student loans and mortgages in order from the smallest balance to the largest.  Target the smallest balance first and work at paying it off with a vengeance. Now that you are tracking your spending, you may find some areas where you can cut back and apply extra amounts toward the debt. Once it is paid off, attack the next smallest balance by adding what you were paying to the now-extinguished debt to the new one. This is what author Dave Ramsey calls the “Debt Snowball.” Continue working this way until you eventually become debt free. Oh yes, and cut up the credit cards.

September/October

Review your estate planning documents. Whether you have a will or trust, if it has been more than three to five years since they were updated or if you’ve had some life events since then (e.g., birth of a child, move to a new state, death of a named trustee, they probably need to be updated. Meet with an attorney and get them updated.

November/December

Meet with your insurance agent(s), and review all of your policies to make sure you are adequately covered. Some types of insurance to consider are health, life, auto, home, liability, long-term care, disability and business. One gap in coverage can negate all other careful planning, so be sure to do a thorough review.

If you are able to implement each of these finance strategies by the end of 2013, you may find yourself with some extra cash to fund an IRA or other retirement account or to add to your emergency cash fund. It’s a great time to meet with a financial planner to create a strategy for your extra cash and to make sure you are on track to meet your longer-term goals.

Investment advisory and financial planning services offered by Julie A. Kern through Wealth Management Solutions, a Registered Investment Adviser. Bridge Financial Strategies and Wealth Management Solutions are not affiliated.

For more information about Platform Scottsdale, visit platformscottsdale.com.

Investing advice

Investors Can’t Avoid Risk, But They Can Minimize It With Education

For most investors, retirement plans took a turn for the worse, specifically in the last few years. They are faced with more challenges and require more discipline when planning for their “nest egg.” Many can remember when they were able to focus on basic techniques such as saving and investing to earn a conservative return. Today, this is not the case.

There are many more factors when investing that are out of our control. There are more influences from our government, politics, financial institutions and international economies. There has always been and will always be a mixture of economics and politics that will affect our economy. However, in the last few years we have seen much more government involvement than usual. Monetary and fiscal policy, which for years have helped to navigate our economy, now play an even larger role. What does this mean for the individual investor? A lot. This requires more responsibility, planning and action from investors.

Investors’ risk today is substantial. We can, however, reduce some of our risk by keeping involved and planning appropriately for our retirement needs. Many of today’s risks include inflation, interest rates, the economy, markets, and now real estate. To reduce risk we must understand it. We then can begin to develop techniques and strategies to limit our risks. I would first recommend that you to seek the advice of a financial planner and have active communication with him or her regarding your goals and needs. I would like to point out that active communication is critical, so as an investor you can evaluate all of your financial decisions objectively throughout your planning process.

Recently, many investors have been tested on their strategies and techniques for investment planning. Hopefully, they can benefit from the downturn they have experienced in the last couple of years and learn from it. If investors pay extra attention and educate themselves about the risks of today’s market, they can prepare for future economic changes.

We will all certainly face new and unknown challenges in our future; systematic risk is unavoidable. With the right counsel and guidance, one can plan accordingly to avoid big mistakes in investing. These mistakes can be controlled, not by the performance of the investments, but by investor behavior.

Michael CoachellEditor’s note: This month’s personal finance column was written by Michael Cochell, associate vice president at Jacob Gold & Associates Inc. Jacob Gold will return next month.