Before we start this blog, I want to say that I hope you all had a very enjoyable Christmas weekend. Hopefully you were able to take some time off and really enjoy the season. Not only is Christmas a time for gifts, family fellowship, and baked goods, but it is a time to reflect on the main reason for the season. I am thankful for the opportunity to do so this past weekend and also am thankful for the week ahead. While our team is back in the office, there are still Christmas and New Years gatherings to be had. I know many of our readers have school-age kids who are still home for holiday break, so I hope the rest of this week off is filled with fun and not too much in-fighting. Now that we are past Christmas and looking towards the new year, there are a few action items that you should check off your financial checklist. Two weeks ago, we talked about RMDs and the requirements surrounding them. If you would like to read that, click here. Today I am going to bring up three new action items that should be on your radar heading into 2023 starting with the creation and/or revision of your budget.
- Creation or Revision of your budget
If you have never created a budget before, starting fresh in 2023 is a great idea! Use the month of January as a trial period to track your income and expenses. Then, as February rolls around, set yourself a budget for how much you can spend in each major expense category. Use the trial month numbers to help set reasonable budget guidelines and to help identify where you are spending too much money. A budget is not a static item, it changes as your life changes, so revisions are a necessary part of budgeting. That brings us to those who already have a budget. This week is a perfect time to look over your budget from 2022. Look for the expense categories where you consistently missed your benchmark. Why is that the case? Were the limits you set irrational or too optimistic? It could be the case that you have had family changes that have resulted in big changes to certain categories. For example, the food and grocery bill may have exceeded your budgeted expectations the past 6 months. This could very well correlate with the birth of a new child into the family. Take the time to look over where your money is going and if you need to a lot more or less to certain categories. If you are being blessed with a raise going into the new year, now is a perfect time to decide what savings buckets that extra income will be allotted to as well.
- Reviewing Estate Planning Documents
The holiday season, for many people, results in a lot of time spent with their children and their relatives. This Christmas, as you continue watch your children, nieces, and nephews grow up and mature into adults and fellow parents, you may want to think about reviewing your estate planning documents and your investment account beneficiaries. It’s very possible that, if you chose to be ahead of the curve and have a will written and trust created at a young age, you may have some antiquated instructions about how you want your assets to be distributed after your death. If you have adult age children who were not adults when you had the will written, it might not hurt to give it a read. You may find that you want certain assets to go to different people now that they are mature enough to handle them. This is not a call for you to change anything necessarily, but it is not a bad idea to give your estate documents a review if you have the time to do so. If you have not done any sort of estate planning, feel free to reach out to us. We can refer you to some attorneys that do great work!
- Review your Life Insurance Policies
While the last two topics can often be a source of un-comfortability, they really shouldn’t be. Estate planning and ensuring you have adequate life insurance coverage can in fact be a labor of love. Is there any greater gift as a parent or grandparent than making sure your dependents are taken care of if you pass away? That is why it may be a good idea to review your life insurance coverage amounts before the new year starts. It may be that you have much higher expenses now than you did when you bought your policy/ies however many years ago. You might need a higher coverage amount. It could be time to add coverage or a new policy. On the flip side, you may have too many life insurance policies or too much coverage. You could be paying for coverage that you really do not need at all. I am not suggesting that you all need to let all your life policies lapse or that you need to buy $1,000,000 more worth of coverage. Again, this is simply a recommendation to review your policies. If you are curious as to what your life insurance needs may be, use this life insurance calculator on our website to calculate your estimated needed coverage. You can always reach out to our team with any questions as well.
Just like with your budget and your estate planning documents, now is the time to do so. 2023 is a new year and a clean slate. With a clean slate comes great opportunities as well as great threats. Make sure you are prepared for them.
We hope you enjoyed today’s blog and we hope you have a great start to the new year. We will see you next week for our first blog of 2023!
Investing involves risks including possible loss of principal. The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.
Content in this material is for general information only and not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations, or a substitute for specific individualized tax or legal advice.