A New Year’s financial planning checklist

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financial planning checklist

By Robert DeHollander

Welcome to the roaring ’20s! As 2020 begins, it’s a great time to plan and organize your
personal finances for the new year.

Here are five actions to consider:

1. Set your savings goals. Did you set savings goals for 2019? Evaluate how you did, and set your new goals for 2020. Review how much you’re contributing to your workplace retirement account and if you’re not taking full advantage of your employer’s match, consider increasing your contribution. Be proactive and pay yourself first!

2. Reduce debt. This is a big one and often the least fun. The new year often brings holiday debt and credit card bills. So if you’re carrying consumer debt, start with an honest assessment. Then begin paying off revolving credit, such as high-interest credit-card bills and non–tax-deductible debt.

3. Re-balance your portfolio. Let’s face it, 2019 was a great year for the stock and bond
markets. It’s unlikely to continue at this pace and your investments probably need some
attention. Make sure your asset allocation is in line with your investment goals, time horizon and risk tolerance. The beginning of the year is a great time to review and re-balance your portfolio.

4. Plan for the unexpected. This is often where I see individuals make the biggest mistakes. Review your insurance policies—homeowner’s, renter’s, auto, disability, long-term care and life insurance. Are the limits adequate? Should the deductibles be modified? Is there less-expensive insurance available for similar coverage? Are you taking advantage of all the discounts offered to you by your insurance providers? Insurance helps protect against unforeseen events that don’t happen very often, but when they do can be too expensive to manage yourself. Review and make sure your coverage is adequate.

5. Think long term. Finally, here are three long-term items to think about. They’re usually not top of mind but have great importance for financial and legacy planning:

  • Review your estate planning documents — To ensure that your estate plan stays in tune with your goals and needs, you should review and update it on an ongoing basis to account for any life changes or other circumstances. Update beneficiary designations, take a fresh look at trustee and agent appointments, review provisions of powers of attorney and health care directives and ensure that you fully understand all of your documents.
  • Check your credit report. It’s important to monitor your credit report regularly for
    suspicious activity that could indicate identity theft. Federal law requires that each of the nationwide credit reporting companies (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion) provide you with a free copy of your report every 12 months.
  • Get professional advice. From time to time, it’s helpful to look at the big picture. This
    may involve a professional review of your unique planning concerns. Consider reaching out to a certified financial planner for a thorough review.
  • Finally, remember that you don’t have to feel like you have to do all of this at once. This year, be intentional about improving your financial health. Take one step at a time and make real progress on your journey to financial success.

Robert DeHollander, CFP is a managing partner and co-founder of the DeHollander & Janse Financial Group located at 3515 Pelham Road, Suite 100, Greenville, SC, 29615. Ph: 864-770-0220. www.djfinancial.com.

Securities and advisory services offered through Commonwealth Financial Network®, member FINRA/SIPC, a registered investment adviser.

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