Client Question: Financial House Spring Cleaning

April 20, 2023

I was talking with a client this week about this “in between” time – the time after the mad dash of first quarter to-do’s (like tax prep and payment) and the easy-going summer months (when, let’s admit it, few of us want to focus on financial tasks!)

She asked what she should be getting in order during this (relatively) slow time. Here are a few things we talked about. If you feel like doing some spring cleaning of your financial house, feel free to read on!

1. Review taxes and plan accordingly – I know – you just finished your taxes and now I’m saying to go back to them. Yes! Tax returns can tell you a lot of valuable information. Namely, take a look at whether you had a large refund or balance due. If you are employed, you may wish to adjust your withholdings to prevent that difference in the future. And if you are self-employed or retired (or making estimated payments for any other reason), use last year’s return to determine if you are making the proper level of payments for this tax year (first quarter estimates should have been made on 4/18/23)

2. Compile and review net worth statement – Now is a great time to update your net worth statement (or put one together if you have never done so). A net worth statement is a listing of everything you own (assets) less everything you owe (debt). I’d suggest reviewing this at least every six months to see how you are trending (ideally, your net worth will increase over time)

3. Evaluate cash and debt management – With the sharp movement in interest rates over the past year, you may have opportunities to earn higher returns on cash or to take action on high interest debt. Check in on the interest rates of your various accounts and compare them to what’s available in the marketplace currently

4. Review beneficiaries – All retirement accounts and life insurance policies require you to have beneficiaries assigned to them. Take a quick look at what you’ve elected and ensure they are still in line with your wishes. Other types of assets (such as bank accounts, taxable accounts, and even your home in some states) are also eligible for beneficiary designation so if you haven’t already added beneficiaries to these accounts, you can get that task done as well. And if you have an estate plan in place (like a trust), take the time to ensure your assets are properly titled

5. Set Savings Plan – we are over 25% of the way thru the year. If you don’t have a savings plan in place for this year, there’s no time like the present! The amount and location (ie: account type) for your savings will vary based on your individual circumstances. Reach out to your advisor and get a plan in place, keeping in mind that the limits for tax-advantaged accounts (like 401ks, IRAs, HSAs) all increased in 2023 – more room to save!

There are of course many more financial house cleaning tasks you can take on, but this is a good list to get you started. If you fly thru these and want some more, send me an email and I’m happy to give you some extra credit!

Happy spring!

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