For so many people, we don’t always get time or take the time to acknowledge the love that we have for each other. We bottle these efforts in cards, in wrapping paper, and sadly nowadays, in memes, posts, and quips to social media platforms. Now, I understand that change is inevitable and the movement of communications to convenience factors are trendy. Let’s evaluate “Love” at this time of year. As you are reading this from a Financial Institution’s website, you can probably guess that it will have a spin on evaluating love and caring to being prepared and preparing for those you care about.
As January crosses into February, I am probably not much different than anyone else when it comes to preparing for the financial homework that is coming; that be, checking the mailbox for 1099s/W2s and organizing the expenses that can legitimately reduce the bottom number on the 1040 of our tax return. Exciting, right. However, this is also a time of the year that evaluate and re-evaluate the giving, saving, and preparing for the year to come and years to come. Let me give you a “fly on the wall” perspective to what I’m talking about.
Giving: For most organizations (church, charities, etc.) a gift letter is sent out to let you know what you have donated in the name of charity. Now, given some major changes to tax law in 2018, most people will not be able to use that deduction on their tax return anymore. However, as being charitable doesn’t necessary mean you should get anything back in return, I evaluate the organizations we intend to continue donating to and those we seek to add to our list.
Saving: This is a broad category, and in combination with your financial advisor, you may want to sit down and discuss what are the short-term projects and goals, and what are the longer-term ones. You may be celebrating a wedding or graduating your 18-year-old on to greater things. These are potentially massive savings tasks for the upcoming year. As I sit down to assess our saving goals, I look to what we are already doing. We are saving in a dollar cost average method for our kids’ futures, we are making sporadic and regular contributions to our long-term goals of retirement, and we are saving for the upcoming events, trips, and vacations for the year to come.
Planning: A mentor of mine once told me that a goal is not achievable if it doesn’t answer all the W’s.
Who: Makes sense. Who is this goal meant for? Is it a family goal, therefore getting more of the house involved? Is it a personal goal potentially demanding you to make changes or improvements in your world? Identifying who is to benefit from this goal will keep you directed.
What: What is the plan this year? What is the plan for next year and beyond? Maybe you need to sit down with the advisor(s) in your life. Standing still is never a New Year’s resolution.
When: When do you get started on this plan? Or do you need to catch up to make this plan work? Are your time frames to accomplishing this goal feasible for the work needed before the deadline?
Where: Some goals have a where, if it is buying a home, the where may what location is affordable and in driving distance to your needs. If it is a destination, organizing and saving for a family trip or retirement home, the where is also important to help organize your saving needs and timeframes.
Why: Is this something important for you this year? Some goal planning is overthinking to a goal that may not happen soon or may not be achievable. Why is really the emotional connection to scale your passion to planning for the goal. If passion to succeeding in this goal is high, it may motivate to change for results.
How: This part is where we come in. I meet with people every day that have big and little dreams, large and small savings, and generous tithing and giving wishes. How is where your financial advisor can be the of the greatest help. Remember, a Financial Advisor isn’t just a person that watches your money grow or shrink, they are someone that should hold your hand though the front and back story of your goal planning process, keeping you aware of certain risks and steering your objectives to a successful completion.
And as Valentine’s Day approaches, this may be a time to evaluate one question: “Are you in love with your Financial Advisor?” If not, maybe it is also a good time for you to re-evaluate for the year and years to come.