by Laura Kocum
on Thursday, December 21st, 2017 at 9:25pm.
As you ring in the New Year, it's the perfect time to reconsider your financial plan. Laurie Ellis-Mcleod, president of AERIE Preferred Financial Group, offers five resolutions to make for 2018:
1. Have a Tax Strategy: If you already have one, you're ahead of the game, but it should still be reviewed. Tax strategies can change based on your projected income. Maybe your new job will increase your tax bracket. Or, perhaps retirement will move you to a lower bracket. Either way, you should talk with a financial professional that specializes in tax strategies and issues. This is especially true if you have a complicated tax filing. Qualified tax professionals are CPAs who are well versed in the current (and changing) laws, and can make recommendations that are specifically tailored to your situation. A tax strategy can involve timing your charitable contributions, delaying (or prioritizing) larger expenses, and making changes that defer income to either the previous year, or the year ahead. It also looks at your deductions, and other ways to use your financial resources.
2. Review Your Investment Mix: "Look at your investments and make sure they reflect your life, and not just your portfolio," Laurie says. It's important that they align with your life goals, and those goals may have changed over time. The new year is a great time to look back at the market. Did it do well? Is your money invested in the right places? Your savings and investments should be adjusted to reflect your goals and increase their potential. An independent financial professional is well-suited to help with this, because they are not limited to one company's investment products. They can look at the variety of options available, across companies, and help you determine the best mix for your portfolio.
3. Review All of Your Insurance Coverage: It's wise to take another look at your home, auto and liability insurance. Life and health insurance should also be reviewed. In addition, long term care protection could be key to your financial future. "In my experience, the average need for long term care is 2-3 years, and, in Wisconsin, the costs can average around $80,000 annually, depending on the type(s) of care provided." One of my goals for my clients is to plan for that expense, without obliterating their retirement savings," Laurie says. "There are lots of ways to tackle long term care insurance and protect your nest egg." Laurie doesn't believe that every client needs long term care insurance. This is a customized plan, based on your specific needs and goals.
4. Review Your Retirement Plan Contributions or Your Income Planning: Now is the best time to make sure that you are getting the maximum employee match in your employer's retirement plan. If you're over 50, you can take advantage of catch up contributions, which allow you to invest even more into your retirement accounts. It's also a good time to look at the other kinds of accounts you have, or could use. For example, tax deferred accounts typically grow faster than taxable ones. If you're retired, you need to know that your money isn't stuck in a particular account. If your goals have changed, you can look at other income strategies with a financial professional.
5. Review Your Beneficiaries: "One of the greatest gifts you can give your family is having your beneficiaries up to date," Laurie says. By having it all in order, you save your family confusion, time, and money during what is likely to be an emotionally difficult time. Recent family events, like marriages, births, adoptions, or divorces, can require changes to the beneficiaries on your accounts. It's also important to note that many of your accounts may not even have beneficiaries named, because they don't require it. Now is a good time to make sure that these accounts have TOD (Transfer on Death) instructions, so that the transfer is seamless, and your legacy is preserved. Laurie works closely with estate planning attorneys who help with legacy planning for beneficiaries.
Laurie Ellis-Mcleod is the founder and president of AERIE Preferred Financial Group. She is independent, which means she can work with investment and insurance products from a wide variety of providers, without being obligated to sell one line. She offers a complementary consultation to all potential clients. For more information, and access to all kinds of financial planning tools, check out her website at: www.aeriepfg.com.
Securities and Investment Advisory Services offered through H. Beck Inc., Member FINRA/SIPC. 6600 Rockledge Dr., Sixth Floor, Bethesda, MD 20817. H. Beck Inc., and AERIE Preferred Financial Group are unaffiliated entities.