The rush and bustle of the holidays are finally over and your life is probably getting back to normal. If greater financial stability is one of your New Year’s resolutions, you probably can benefit from a financial checkup this January. Here’s how to assess your net worth, investments, insurance coverage and financial goals.
WHAT YOU OWN, WHAT YOU OWE
Any assessment of your personal finances should begin with your net worth. To calculate this important figure, you need to create a net worth statement. Having information such as this on hand will help you visualize where your finances stand and see whether you’re in danger of straying from your financial goals.
What’s your net worth? Simply put, it’s the value of what you own, minus what you owe. Calculate your net worth by adding all of your assets, including cash, retirement funds, investment account balances, personal property, and real estate and other fixed assets.
Then subtract your liabilities, including mortgages, other loans and lines of credit, credit card balances, and taxes due. What’s left is your net worth, and seeing this number on paper (or your computer screen) can put into perspective just how you’re spending your money and whether you might be able to do more to grow your savings.
PROTECTING WHAT’S VALUABLE
Another key area to reconsider is your insurance coverage. Many people have seen their home values rise recently, which may call for an upward adjustment in homeowner’s coverage. Also look into coverage for any major purchases, such as valuable jewelry, you’ve made since you last updated your homeowners policy. And while you may not have needed an umbrella policy in the past, higher net worth and increased risk (such as a teenage son or daughter starting to drive) provide good reason to take another look at this type of coverage.
As for life insurance, determine if you have enough. Your insurance professional can help you decide what, given such factors as your income and family responsibilities, you need and what it will cost.
MAKING EMPLOYEE BENEFITS WORK FOR YOU
Once settled into a job, many people lose sight of their employer-provided benefits. Check in on them. Your w-4 withholding status, for example, may need revising if you’ve gotten married, had a child or experienced some other kind of significant life change. You might also want to change a beneficiary for your employer-sponsored retirement plan.
Speaking of your employer-sponsored retirement account — check your deferral amount to ensure you’re not putting away too little. If, for example, your employer matches employee 401(k) contributions up to a certain percentage, you should defer at least that much of your income. Otherwise, you’re turning down free money. And if you haven’t done so recently, review your retirement
Investment portfolio’s allocations. If certain securities or asset classes did disproportionately well — or poorly — your portfolio may no longer match your ideal risk/return profile.
Finally, review contributions to your Flexible Spending Account or Health Savings Account (if you have them). Because contributions are pretax, they don’t reduce your take-home pay by the full amount of the contribution.
START THE YEAR RIGHT
Most everyone makes a few New Year’s resolutions; one of yours should be to revise your wealth management plan if necessary. And the first step is to assess your financial standing. Your Lenox advisor can help you determine your best course of action.
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