I first want to take this opportunity to wish you and yours a very happy, healthy and prosperous New Year. I also want to thank you for the privilege of being able to write this column and help you with the challenges we all face when it comes to personal finance. When I first became an adult and on my own, personal finance was not something very complex and the issues were relatively straightforward. Back then when you said shop around that may have meant making a couple of calls. Today, when you say shop around it means something totally different. When I got involved in this business and they were talking about retirement, the general rule was that as you get older you need less money to live on and that at most, you plan for a 10 or 15-year retirement. Today, you must have a rising income and plan for a 30 year-plus retirement. The bottom line, our lives have become much more complex and challenging than ever before.
I hate making New Year’s Resolutions because I never keep them. However, a goal that we should all have for 2016 is to take better care of our personal finances. Whether it’s paying closer attention to our investments, making sure our estate planning needs are taken care of or making sure we are living within our means, we all have to take more of an active interest in our personal financial affairs. It would be nice if you could look at your personal financial affairs once a year and forget about them. Of course, it doesn’t work that way. Handling your personal financial affairs is a 12-month-a-year job. You need to make sure that every month you spend time on your personal finances. Will they ever be in perfect shape? No; however, if you start embarking on a project of continuous improvement, you will find that over a short term you’ll be in much better financial shape.
When it comes to personal financial planning it is more than just having a well-balanced and diversified portfolio; it also means taking care of your estate planning needs. Have you reviewed your estate planning lately or if you don’t have one-what are you waiting for. In addition, it is always important to review your insurance coverages and to receive competitive bids. Other areas of personal financial planning that we all need to review on an occasion is our outstanding debt to see if we can be more efficient with it and our tax situation. Remember it is not patriotic to pay more than you have to in taxes.
One last thought to keep in mind and that is when you have financial difficulties; it just doesn’t impact you, your loved ones are affected as well. Poor finances can put pressure on marriages, family and friends and even impact your job. Therefore, as we enter 2016, let’s all pledge to be more proactive when it comes to our personal financial affairs.
Happy New Year and good luck!