Year End Financial Planning Checklist
To say 2020 has been a wild ride would be an understatement. We’ve had a global pandemic, volatile markets, a presidential election and a new normal across much of America. All of these things impact your personal finances. Before we reach year-end, let’s take a look at some things you might want to consider. Keeping track of these things will help maintain your short-term and long-term financial health.
Review any and all goals you might’ve set for 2020 and update your progress. If you haven’t set any goals, now would be a good time to map them out for 2021. We suggest breaking your goals down into short-term goals and long-term goals. We also suggest making an action plan to achieve those goals. And it always helps to break down the longer goals into smaller, actionable goals.
When goal-setting, make sure you include the total amount needed, the timeframe to achieve the goal, and the monthly contribution amount. You can make the monthly contribution a part of your monthly budget.
If you haven’t done so in awhile, make sure to check your credit report. There are plenty of free apps (Credit Karma) that allow you to keep tabs on any changes to your credit score. You’ll want to make sure there are no discrepancies, you haven’t been a victim of identify theft, and there aren’t any big decreases in your overall score. Using the free apps like Credit karma DOES NOT affect your credit. Only “hard-pulls” will negatively affect your credit. An example would be a bank pulling your credit to decide whether to loan you a mortgage or auto loan.
One of the biggest things you can do to alleviate money worries is create an emergency fund. With an available emergency fund, you don’t have to turn to credit card debt or borrow money from friends and family at the first sign of trouble. Typically, you’ll want to keep 3 to 6 months worth of expenses in the fund. You’ll want to keep this money in a safe, secure account that you can easily liquidate. Something like an FDIC insured checking or savings account would serve this purpose well.
It’s always good to know what you have, and what you owe. To do this, you can figure out your assets and your liabilities – this will also calculate your present net worth. Make a list of your assets (these are items you currently own or possess). It would include things like cash, checking accounts, savings accounts, retirement accounts, vehicle blue book value, residence value, etc. Next, take inventory of your liabilities, which would include anything you owe or any debts you have. Liabilities include credit card balances, mortgages, auto loans, student loans, etc. If you have loans with balances above 5%, consider consolidating these into a personal loan to take advantage of historically low interest rates.
Review Your Mortgage
Mortgage rates have teetered at all-time lows for much of 2020. Re-evaluate your existing mortgage and interest rate percentage to determine if it makes sense to refinance. Some things to consider when deciding to refinance…
-How long do you plan on living in the current home
-What is your current mortgage rate vs a new mortgage rate
-How long would it take to recoup any closing costs
If you can lower your interest rate by at least 1%, it most likely makes sense to refinance. Depending on the amount of equity you have in the home, you might also be able to rid your payment of PMI (private mortgage insurance).
Review your portfolio and make any necessary changes based on where you are in your career. If you want your investments or assets to remain safer, consider making those changes and rebalancing your portfolio. You should also decide whether or not you want to take an RMD or withdrawal between now and April 15th. Due to COVID, all RMD requirements from Qualified plans were waived for 2020. Also, take a look at your goals for retirement and income, and make sure you’re putting a plan together to hit those goals.
If you have any questions around any of these topics, please contact your friends at GPIS by calling 866-201-7829 or by sending an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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