Happy New Year! If one of your New Year’s resolutions includes getting your finances in order, you may benefit from creating and maintaining a yearly checklist. A financial checklist can help you stay on top of your finances and make progress toward your financial goals. It can also be a handy reference when changes occur in your life, such as marriage, divorce, children, grandchildren, or the loss of a spouse.

If you haven’t created a financial checklist before, here are some items you may want to include this year:

  1. Review your budget: Take a look at your income and expenses to see where you can cut back or make changes, if necessary. This is also a good time to reassess your financial goals and make sure your budget is aligned with them.
  2. Check your credit report: It’s important to monitor your credit score, and one way to do this is to review your credit report. You can get a free copy of your credit report once a year from each of the three major credit bureaus (Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax). Look for any errors or signs of identity theft, and take steps to address them if necessary.
  3. Review your emergency fund: While a good rule of thumb includes saving enough to cover at least three to six months’ worth of living expenses, every situation is different. If you expect to lose your job in 2023 or anticipate a situation in which you’re unable to work, consider saving more. If you’re unsure how much to save, talk it over with your financial advisor.
  4. Pay off debt: High-interest debt can be a major financial burden, especially as you approach retirement, so it’s important to work on paying it off as quickly as possible. Consider making extra payments on your debts or consolidating them to get a lower interest rate.
  5. Review or update your beneficiary designations: Review your bank accounts, retirement accounts, life insurance policies, and annuities to ensure your beneficiary designations are up to date. You may also consider naming a contingent beneficiary if your primary beneficiary were to die before your next update. A good way to keep track of beneficiaries is to create a list, along with dates of your most recent updates. Review the list annually or when something changes.
  6. Keep building your retirement savings: Are you saving as much as you can for retirement? If you are age 50 or over, consider making a catch-up contribution to your employer-sponsored retirement plan or individual retirement account (IRA).
  7. Protect your assets: Make sure you have adequate insurance coverage to protect yourself and your assets. This can include health insurance, car insurance, homeowners or renters insurance, and life insurance.
  8. Review your investments: It’s important to periodically review your investments with your financial advisor to make sure they’re still aligned with your financial goals and risk tolerance. If it’s been a while since you last met with your advisor, call now to make an appointment.
  9. Review your tax withholding: If you got married, divorced, or had a child recently, it’s likely time to adjust your withholding. Unsure how to calculate it? The IRS offers a handy tax withholding estimator to help you.
  10. Review your estate plan: Does your estate plan still reflect your wishes? A quick review each year can alert you to any needed updates. Don’t forget to provide your executor with the ability to access your estate plan, if needed.

Keeping a financial checklist and making scheduled, regular updates can help give you peace of mind and relieve any financial stress you may be feeling now that the holidays are over. As you review your checklist, be sure to note any questions you have and bring them to your next meeting with your financial advisor. On behalf of all of us at Team Savant, best wishes for a happy and prosperous new year!

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Savant Wealth Management is a leading independent, nationally recognized, fee-only firm serving clients for over 30 years. As a trusted advisor, Savant Wealth Management offers investment management, financial planning, retirement plan and family office services to financially established individuals and institutions. Savant also offers corporate accounting, tax preparation, payroll and consulting through its affiliate, Savant Tax & Consulting.

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