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End of Year Strategies: Fresh Start for 2017


Follow these steps to hit the ground running financially in 2017.

The holiday season comes on quickly and seems to depart just as fast. It may seem like the Halloween bowls finally reached their bottoms, but the simple truth is that there are less than 3 shopping weeks left, and less than a month until we welcome 2017. The financial sins of 2016, if indeed there were any, are just about in the rearview mirror, and the opportunity to get on a productive financial course is right at your fingertips.

Let’s take a look at a few simple steps to hitting the ground running in 2017.

Build a Great Budget

Budgeting isn’t everyone’s strong suit, and you may be getting by just fine without one. But as the calendar changes over, consider developing at least a basic budget, even if you don’t look at it every day and don’t account for every dollar of income and expenditure. No budget is perfect, but fortunately, none has to be. But a sound budget can be not only the roadmap to a successful financial future, but also the foundation for it.

Look Back, but Only Briefly

During the dog days of winter, before the allure of spring takes you back outside, take a quick glance at 2016, including what went well and what you’d like to have done differently. While you’re at it, take advantage of one of the free credit report services--preferably at AnnualCreditReport.com-- to do a maintenance check on your credit rating. (Other companies that advertise free credit reports often engage in a bait-and-switch in which people who don’t read the fine print closely are enrolled in clubs and other nonsense that ultimately lead to charges.) Check your reports for inaccuracies and alarm bells, and have a general sense of your credit rating, which can affect borrowing power and overall credit availability.

But here’s the thing: Don’t get too caught up in what happened last year. Mistakes made then were last year’s mistakes. If they hurt, be determined to do better in 2017. Always keep in mind, though, that retirement investing is a long-haul endeavor. There will be roadblocks along the way. Keep moving, and you’ll get where you need to be.

Want Some Advice? What’s Stopping You?

Consider that the two biggest fears of working with an advisor--fear of stepping out of your comfort zone and a lack of trust giving access to outside persons--can both be overcome through time and effort. Working with the right professional can be an important step in this year’s financial journey. The beginning of the year is a good time to think about this, because your advisor may also be able to provide some tax guidance, which will come in handy over the next few months.

Review and Update

If you didn’t get a chance to do it last year, look at your insurance coverage and make sure your beneficiaries are updated and that your coverage still reflects your needs. Loyalty to one fine insurance company may be important to you, but it never hurts to shop around and find out what other insurers are charging for policies similar to yours. If nothing else, you can go to your current insurer, explain that you’d like them to keep your business, but ask for lower costs comparable to other reputable companies.

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