I love simple financial advice because we make money management much too difficult. That’s why we need to boil down what we need to know — and cancel out the noise.
This year you can plan ahead, but you’ll need to earmark some things to do. Here are some great tips from my friend Julie Jason, the author of Retire Securely: Insights on Money Management from an Award-Winning Financial Columnist.
Manage With Logic, Not Emotion. There’s no question that the headlines are going to be nerve wracking. That’s the nature of the beast. Ignore them and figure out how much you’ll need to live comfortably in retirement and pay your bills.
“It’s a fact of human nature that emotions can wreak havoc on our decision-making abilities,” Jason notes. “A growing field of study called behavioral finance seeks to identify the pitfalls of the human psyche to help people — in this case, investors — minimize the effects that emotions can have on their investment portfolios.”
Do the numbers. Project your retirement income based on savings and Social Security. Figure out how much you need to save and invest to meet your goals. Execute!
If you need help, get help. You may not have the time, knowledge or patience to deal with complex financial matters. There’s no harm in seeking the services of a fee-only financial planner.
As Jason advises, however, you need to vet your planner. Avoid any adviser who wants to sell you anything on commission. They won’t be a “fiduciary,” that is, someone acting in your best interests. Ask about their credentials.
“I do believe that if you need planning, you would be well-advised to seek out a planner with credentials,” Jason says, “such as those conferred by the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards (a nonprofit organization that seeks to foster professional standards in personal financial planning).”
Plan Your Legacy. Estate planning can get complicated. How can you take care of your heirs while ensuring that other worthy causes benefit?
Here are some talking points Jason says you need to discuss with your family and estate-planning attorney:
— Is your will up to date and does it dispose of your assets in the most efficient manner?
— Have you made proper provisions for minor children, including naming guardians and providing for their support? — Should you consider a living trust to prevent your assets from going through probate?
— Are you distributing your assets in the most tax-efficient way possible? Should all of your assets be distributed to your spouse?
Of course, there’s much more you need to discuss in the coming year, but the important thing is to start talking — and have money conversations with your spouse, partner and family on a regular basis.