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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.