Making your money work for you

By Stewart Darrell, CFA

The beginning of a new year is the perfect time to review where you have been and where you are going, especially when it comes to your financial well-being. Think of it as an opportunity to reflect on the big picture and make any necessary tweaks before the year gets away from you. Here are six tips to put you on track for a great 2018.

1. Revisit Your Risk Tolerance
High returns with little downside defined 2017. With twelve straight months of positive returns in the S&P 500, who isn’t feeling pretty good? The catch is most investors are riding high not realizing their stock allocations have swelled, potentially opening them up to more risk than they realize. As historical volatility returns, many will change their tunes. Don’t join the chorus; we can help you assess your risk tolerance from both a quantitative and qualitative perspective to ensure you’re positioned correctly for what lies ahead. Already a client? Then we’ve got you covered.

2. Master Your Expenses
Start by tabulating the big-ticket items like housing, healthcare, taxes, living expenses and travel. You may be surprised at what you find no matter your net worth. Seeing real figures and the full picture may help you reprioritize certain aspects of your life that extend well beyond your finances. If you’ve been doing this for years, keep up the good work! If not, there’s no time like the present.

3. Boost Your Savings
If you’re still in the work force, maxing out your 401(k) plan or contributing enough to receive your company’s full match is a no-brainer. It’s free money. If you’re already checking that box every year, there are advanced saving strategies and portfolio management techniques you can explore with us to ensure your financial assets are working for you. If your working years are behind you, let us help you navigate the road ahead to maintain the lifestyle you desire while meeting your financial needs.

4. Give to Others
While the tax benefits of gifting to charity may be reduced for some under the new tax code, there are plenty of other reasons to support the institutions with missions you hold dear. You may find your help is needed more than ever in 2018 as tax reform may dent overall donation volume. Gifting appreciated stock is a smart way to donate to qualified non-profits without realizing embedded capital gains and the associated taxes.

5. Share Financial Wisdom
They don’t teach this stuff in school, and as you may be aware, America’s financial literacy is among the lowest in the developed world. Break the cycle! It’s taken a lot of blood, sweat and tears to get to where you are today. Give your loved ones a leg up by sharing the key financial decisions you’ve made over your lifetime. Tribal knowledge can go a long way.

6. Define Your Legacy
An estate plan can be more than just passing assets to the next generation as tax efficiently as possible. It can be the foundation for family unity and growth that lasts well beyond your lifetime. If you’re wondering what your estate plan says, it’s time to dust it off and get it reviewed by a professional.

Follow these steps and you’ll be well on your way to making a difference in your own life and the ones you love. If you’re a current client, exhale. We’re already helping you with all of this. Not a client or know someone who can benefit from financial planning or investment advice? We are just a call or email away. Here’s to a great 2018!