Five Items to Include in Your Year-End Financial Check-Up

Advice courtesy of Brian Lethert, owner of Spitfire Financial Group

1. Tax Planning Strategies

– Charitable contributions

– Roth conversion

– Spend “Flex Plan” dollars to avoid losing them

 – Open and fund an HSA (if HDHP qualified)

2. Pay Yourself First

– Ask yourself, “Am I saving or investing 10% of my income?”

If yes, consider giving yourself a raise. Increase savings by 1-2%.

If no, maximize your employer-sponsored retirement plan at work or at least contribute up to the company match.  

– Initiate the habit of increasing savings by 1% annually. 

– For those without an employer-sponsored retirement plan, start an IRA or Roth IRA for yourself and save monthly. 

3. The Bucket Strategy for Asset Allocation

– Short Term Bucket: Emergency Reserves

These are typically in low volatility, principal safe asset class. Benchmark 3-6 months of living expenses. 

– Long Term Bucket: Retirement or goals with 10-plus year timeline

These are typically in growth-oriented asset classes. 

– Mid-Term Bucket: Goals between the long and short term timelines

4. Estate Planning

– Known as the “What ifs?”

For example, “What if I die? What if I become disabled?”

These are difficult questions that many people avoid answering. 

– Review your beneficiaries.

– Draft or update your will, power of attorney, living will, healthcare POA, etc. 

– Put together a plan for multi-generational wealth through legacy plans or planned giving.

– Determine if there are special circumstances. Perhaps a trust is appropriate?

5. Seek Professional Guidance

Whether you choose an accountant, financial advisor, insurance professional, attorney or all of the above, it is essential to find a professional you like and trust to help employ your financial goals.