By all accounts, America’s economy has been healthy this year. Unemployment rates hover below four percent, and wage growth recently hit a nine-year high. However, The U.S. Federal Reserve is expected to raise interest rates several times next year to temper inflation. In addition, these numbers are dampened by increasing global tensions as the world reacts to America’s new trade policies. Economists are beginning to think that 2019 will mean a slowdown as we come to terms with new tax laws, so-called trade wars, and decreased purchasing power.
Where do you fit in? You can’t control the global economy, but you can make informed decisions about your financial future. Before turning the page on the new year, we suggest reflecting on your fiscal health and adjusting as needed.
The way forward usually begins by looking back. The end of the year is a great time to review your financial history and start 2019 on the track to better financial health. Let’s get started.
Analyze Spending Patterns
When is the last time you studied your household cash flow? It seems obvious, but it might be time to review monthly expenses to see what can be cut and what is still of value. This is especially true if you have your bills set to auto-pay. That gym membership or the cable plus various streaming services might not be worth it anymore.
As you review your expenses, keep receipts and records to make tax time easier. (See our blog post about what to keep and what to trash.) That way your CPA can assist you in claiming all available deductions and credits.
We already discussed how important it is to review your investments at the end of the year. For your investment portfolio, you should try to balance your asset distribution and diversify to mitigate risk. Then max out all available retirement accounts before tax day to receive the greatest benefit. Before finalizing your decisions, consult with your financial advisor to be sure that you aren’t missing opportunities.
Maximize Employee Benefits
Part of boosting your financial well-being is expecting the unexpected. Your employer might provide optional benefits that have been previously overlooked. It’s worth reviewing your paperwork with human resources to be sure that you participate in the applicable programs:
- Short-term and long-term disability
- Life insurance
- New or updated healthcare options
- Seminars related to wellness, financial, fraud prevention, etc.
Be Specific with Goals
Choose a time frame, a dollar amount, or another quantifiable way to measure your financial goals. Perhaps you want to increase your emergency fund by ten percent or pay off your debt in a certain order. Then write it down to stay motivated. We suggest sharing your goals with your partner or trusted advisor–not only can they offer guidance and encouragement, but they can also help hold you accountable.
Finally, discuss your financial goals with the experts. Our team can highlight any missed opportunities and offer advice on investments. In addition, we can help you understand and mitigate financial risks. By making smart choices now, you can boost your financial well-being for tomorrow. We hope you enjoy this holiday season, and as always, contact us with questions.