January 13, 2017
Starting the Year Right, Part II
✔ Review your retirement savings plans
Saving for retirement in an individual retirement account (IRA), 401(k), or another retirement plan is a nice way to enjoy some tax relief. As you put together your annual financial plan, you should consider the following vehicles:
☐ Decide whether a Roth or Traditional IRA is best for you now.
☐ Convert a traditional IRA to a Roth IRA.
☐ Do the same for your 401(k), which can also be Roth or regular.
☐ Rollover any old 401(k) accounts from a previous employer into your IRA.
☐ Increase or decrease your annual contribution amounts to retirement accounts.
✔ Review your investments
It’s important for investors to take stock of where their investments are during the annual financial planning process. This is especially true when the economy undergoes a shift, like right now. This is where the services of a fiduciary financial advisor may help tremendously:
☐ Check your asset allocation.
☐ Then figure out which investments will do the best job of meeting your asset allocation goals.
✔ Rebalance your portfolio
Periodically rebalancing your portfolio ensures that you’re not carrying too much risk or wasting your investment dollars on securities that aren’t generating a decent rate of return. It also makes sure that your current portfolio reflects your investment strategy (changes in the market often cause a shift that needs to be corrected to maintain your planned diversification).
☐ Look at which asset classes you have in your portfolio and if there are any gaps. If necessary, rebalance your investments to meet your current strategy.
✔ Tackle end-of-year tax planning for investments
While you’re looking over your portfolio and rebalancing, don’t forget to factor in how selling off assets may affect your tax liability. If you’re selling investments at a profit, you’ll be responsible for paying short- or long-term capital gains tax, depending on how long you held the assets. Consider these strategies:
☐ Harvest tax losses by replacing losing investments with different ones to offset a potentially higher tax bill.
☐ Look into whether you should offset capital gains and losses.
☐ Investigate whether it makes sense to use appreciated securities to make charitable donations or support lower-income family members.
✔ Update your financial emergency plan
A sizable emergency fund is helpful if you run into a financial rainy day; be sure you have socked away adequate resources. While you’re at it, look at your broader emergency plan as a whole.
☐ If you don’t have three to six months’ worth of expenses tucked away, building your emergency savings should be a top priority.
☐ Invest in insurance: For example, are you covered for a temporary disability?
☐ Make sure you have a financial and medical power of attorney in place.
These are things you should be thinking about as you finalize your annual financial plan.
✔ Look ahead to next year’s savings
As you move into a new year, think about where else you could be saving money to fully fund your emergency savings and put aside additional dollars for the future. Consider whether you should:
☐ Refinance your mortgage.
☐ Rethink your car insurance.
☐ Lower your food bill.
☐ Utilize Flex Spending or Health Savings Accounts.
☐ Cut the cable TV cord.
☐ Curb your energy bill.
☐ Divert your paycheck to savings, by contributing more to retirement accounts or funneling money directly from your paycheck to an emergency savings account.
✔ Work on building alternative income streams for retirement
A 401(k), pension plan, or Social Security benefits may all be potential sources of income in retirement, but they’re not your only options. Figure out what else you could add:
☐ Investing in a rental property and becoming a landlord can provide regular income.
☐ A part-time job/small business may be the right solution to adding to your income.
☐ If funds are tight and you own your home, investigate whether a reverse mortgage is a good solution for you.
☐ Think about purchasing dividend stocks, starting a side hustle, creating a website that you can monetize, or making investments in peer-to-peer lending. These options require varying degrees of time and money to get started, but they all provide potential avenues for boosting income in retirement.
The Bottom Line
An annual financial plan is an exceptionally valuable tool for your life (and peace of mind) today and for your future. Best-case scenario: You’ve checked off all the items on this punch list by now. If not, don’t hesitate to pencil in time on your calendar to get the year started on the right foot. We at Gainplan would be happy to help you think through your issues and give you an objective review of your plan.
This commentary on this website reflects the personal opinions, viewpoints and analyses of the Gainplan LLC employees providing such comments, and should not be regarded as a description of advisory services provided by Gainplan LLC or performance returns of any Gainplan LLC Investments client. The views reflected in the commentary are subject to change at any time without notice. Nothing on this website constitutes investment advice, performance data or any recommendation that any particular security, portfolio of securities, transaction or investment strategy is suitable for any specific person. Any mention of a particular security and related performance data is not a recommendation to buy or sell that security. Gainplan LLC manages its clients’ accounts using a variety of investment techniques and strategies, which are not necessarily discussed in the commentary. Investments in securities involve the risk of loss. Past performance is no guarantee of future results.