Know What You Are Worth Today to Map Out Your Financial Future

It does not matter how much money you have today; you still must know the details of what you are worth. Understanding your financial situation can help you develop a retirement plan, pay down debt, draft a comprehensive estate plan and live with financial independence. To figure out your net worth, you should calculate the amount by which your assets (what you own) exceed your liabilities (what you owe). If your assets are greater than your liabilities, you have a positive net worth and vice versa. Doing this can provide you with valuable insight into what you can do to continue the plan toward financial confidence, or maybe it is an eye-opener to overspending. This knowledge may allow you to see where you can adjust toward more beneficial financial decision-making. What are assets? Assets include real estate, bank accounts, investment instruments, retirement funds, brokerage accounts, and personal items like your car, boat, airplane, jewelry, or other collectibles. Remember to include those intangible assets you might own, like patents, intellectual property, trademarks, etc. What are liabilities? Liabilities include mortgages, credit card debt, student loans, medical bills, personal loans, settlements against you in court, etc. This may also include money you might owe to someone or an organization. Because we have so many different assets of varying values, assigning accurate values to your assets can become difficult. It is essential not to inflate your net worth, thus making it more challenging to prepare a strategy that you will be able to follow. One way to determine the value of what you own is by comparing your assets to similar assets in your area that are for sale or that have been recently

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How to Prepare for Retirement

Whether you’re just starting your career or are planning to retire this year, it’s never too soon or too late to start preparing for your retirement. What this entails may be different from person to person, but there are a few essential tips everyone should keep in mind when saving up for their eventual retirement. Start early Saving for retirement isn’t something that most of us can do overnight. It takes time to build up the necessary funds, so it’s best to start saving sooner rather than later. While you don’t necessarily have to start saving in your twenties, you should seriously start investing into your retirement funds in your thirties and forties. This will give you time to add to and subsequently grow your 401(k), IRA, Roth IRA, or other high-yield savings accounts. With that being said, it’s also never too late to start saving for retirement. You might just have to be more aggressive with your savings to build up a fund that can prepare you for your next steps into retirement. Save, save, save While there’s no one right number for how much you’ll need to save for retirement, it’s generally estimated that retirees need between 70 and 90 percent of their preretirement annual income, which will be a combination of savings and social security. To help you reach this goal, you’ll want to save around 15 percent of your gross annual income every year. There’s always some flexibility to this number, but there’s also no such thing as saving too much. If you work for a business that offers a 401(k) company match, try meeting at least the minimum requirements of that match. This is additional

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Show Loved Ones You Care This Valentine’s Day With An Updated Estate Plan

Hopefully, you’re planning to give all of your loved ones plenty of affection this Valentine’s Day. But what if you weren’t around? To make sure everyone is fully protected when you’re gone, you need an estate plan. This year, show everyone you care by making sure your plan is fully updated. Check out these tips to do this task properly. 1. Ensure your children will be taken care of This part of your estate plan will change as your children get older. When they are young, you may need to take out life insurance and nominate a guardian for them. As they get older, you may want to set up a trust that distributes assets slowly to them. At some point, you may decide that your kids are mature enough so that you don’t need these provisions, even if you still want to make sure your assets go to them. 2. Make sure your estate plan reflects your current family Ideally, you should update your estate plan any time you have a major family event such as a marriage, divorce, birth, or death. However, often when these disruptive events happen, an already-completed estate plan is the last thing on your mind. This February, look over your estate plan and make sure that it includes – or leaves out – certain people. Keep in mind that in many cases, a will can define beneficiaries by relationship rather than a specific person’s name. For instance, you may have a will that stipulates all of your assets go to your children. It may automatically distribute assets to your grandchildren if a child passes away before you do. However, if you or your children

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Prepping Early For Tax Day

As the year has still just begun, probably the last thing on your mind is filing your taxes in spring. But if you start assembling the necessary documents and information now, you’ll experience less stress and be in a far better position come April. Luckily, tax day is a few days later than usual in 2023—since April 15 falls on a weekend, and the following Monday is a holiday, the deadline for filing this year’s taxes is April 18. So even if you don’t get a refund, you’ll at least have a later deadline! Gather your tax documents and information Preparation is the key to keeping any tax-filing stressors at bay, so you’ll want to check your inbox and mailbox regularly in the coming weeks. As employers are obligated to issue W-2s by January 31, you may be receiving important tax documents within a few weeks. Also be on the lookout for other important documents you’ll need for filing your taxes, such as 1099 forms reporting any investment income and 5498 forms noting contributions and rollovers to individual retirement accounts. If you expect to be receiving multiple tax documents, consider having a large envelope or basket that you can keep the documents in as they arrive in the mail and creating a system for storing the ones you receive digitally. This way nothing will get misplaced before you file your taxes. You will also need the social security numbers for yourself, your spouse, and any dependents, so make sure you know these or have them noted in a safe place. If you plan to use a preparer for your 2022 taxes, be aware that some will ask you to provide

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What Accounts Should I Consider If I Want to Save More?

During January and February, we like to help clients identify proactive ways to start the year off right and save more. Perhaps you… Received a bonus or a raise and need guidance on how to save or invest the additional cash; Have a tax refund coming to you; or Want to consider ways to save more this year.   Whatever the case, the beginning of the year is a great time to set your intentions and establish good habits to ensure you save for your financial goals. Identifying available savings opportunities and prioritizing across accounts can be complex and overwhelming. For example, do you know whether you are eligible for and taking full advantage of pre-tax health care savings accounts, such as HSAs and FSAs? Are you optimizing your retirement savings, choosing between traditional and Roth options, obtaining the total amount of any employer match, and maximizing your contributions? To help you spot ways to save more this year, we have a our Checklist: What Accounts Should I Consider If I Want to Save More? that outlines more than 15 strategies to consider when you have surplus cash or savings on hand.   Download Our Savings Checklist     While the checklist can help you identify different opportunities, we are always available to meet with you to discuss your finances and goals and determine what options best suit your unique circumstances. Don’t hesitate to contact us and schedule a time to discuss this further.     The opinions voiced in article are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. To determine which strategies or investments may be suitable for you, consult

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What Issues Should I Consider At The Start Of The Year?

The beginning of the new year is the perfect time to discuss the various factors influencing your planning. For example, we can: Look at your progress toward your goals and consider any new goals you’ve set for yourself. Evaluate your insurance coverages to make sure your risks are minimized. Revisit your assets and debt and evaluate whether your risk tolerance continues to be appropriate. Take a look at the Checklist: What Issues Should I Consider At The Start Of The Year 2023 I’ve included for you. In addition to the ideas above, we can organize you for tax season, so you have a smooth experience. There are many reasons why having a good conversation now can set you up for success later.   Download Our Beginning of the Year Checklist   Sometimes the incremental changes that occur year-to-year may not seem like a big deal. In reality, though, they can add up. The planning that we’ve done together can evolve to benefit and strengthen the people and organizations that are important to you. If the checklist I’ve included has helped you identify topics we should plan for, please get in touch to schedule a time for us to discuss them further.

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Your Financial Fresh Start: 12 Resolutions in 12 Months

Change may be difficult, especially when you try to change your financial habits. The process might be easier if you take an incremental approach. Do you want to get on top of your finances this year? Are you looking for ways to improve your fiscal health? Here are 12 financial resolutions to consider. Work on a resolution each month in whatever order works for you, and by the end of the year, you may feel a lot happier about your relationship with money. 1. Create a Budget Sit down and create a budget. It should outline how much money you have coming in and going out. If your expenses exceed your income, look for areas where you may make changes. 2. Pay All Bills on Time Paying your bills late may be stressful and it costs you money. Utility companies generally charge a fee for late payments, while credit card companies tend to charge penalties and may increase your interest rates. Paying your bills on time may require you to tighten your belt for a month or two until you get ahead. 3. Review Your Subscriptions Many people end up with subscriptions that they do not use, which wastes money. Look through your bank and credit card accounts to find subscriptions you do not use and cancel them. 4. Pay Down Credit Card Debt Find some extra money in your budget and devote it to paying down your credit card debt. Start with the cards with the highest interest rates and when paid off, go to the cards with the next highest rates. 5. Track Your Credit Score A high credit score may make borrowing money at lower interest rates

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A Retirement Countdown Checklist: 5 Steps to Consider Before Retirement

Whether you’re hoping to retire soon or are just beginning to explore the idea of stepping back from your job, you’re probably wondering how to make it happen. Will you have enough money? How will you spend your time? What will you do for health insurance? Here, you’ll find a useful countdown of the five biggest steps to developing a solid retirement plan. 5. Assess Your Retirement Goals What does retirement look like for you? Do you plan to or want to continue working part-time? Will you travel? Do you want to sell your home and hit the road in an RV? At what age will you claim Social Security? When will you qualify for Medicare? Everyone’s retirement goals are different, which means your financial plan for retirement will also be different. 4. Decide How to Draw Down Savings Depending on whether your assets are held in a pre-tax account, a post-tax account, or a taxable account, your savings drawdown strategy can vary widely. Your age can also dictate when, how, and how much you withdraw from your retirement accounts. For example, if you plan to retire before age 59.5, you may want to first begin withdrawing funds from a taxable account to provide flexibility until you’re able to take penalty-free withdrawals from a 401(k) or a traditional IRA. 3. Enlist a Financial Professional If you don’t yet have a dedicated financial professional, now may be the time to assess your retirement readiness and work to optimize your income and assets as you enter retirement. You don’t want to find yourself in a position where your retirement needs exceed your income or assets and you’re forced to scale down—or even

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3 Ways to Tackle Your Financial Goals

Though the New Year may bring with it a new opportunity to set and achieve financial goals, the thought of making sweeping changes to your budget and lifestyle may be overwhelming. What can you do to improve your odds of success in reaching the goals you’ve set? Below, we discuss three concrete steps to take to potentially make tackling your financial goals easier and more enjoyable. Prioritize Your Goals Not all goals are created equal. For example, paying off $10,000 in high-interest debt may have a far greater impact on your finances than setting aside $5 per pay period for holiday gifts. If you’re hoping to reach several financial goals this year, it may be worth spending some time deciding which of these goals is most important to you and how achieving it fits into your overall plan. On the other hand, if one goal is relatively easy to achieve when compared to the others, you may want to prioritize this goal. The satisfaction of checking it off your list may give you more motivation to tackle the tougher ones while also freeing up some extra cash to throw at these goals. Break Goals Down into Smaller Chunks As the saying goes, the only way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time. The same holds true for achieving your financial goals. When setting a lofty goal like “save $20,000 this year” or “pay off my student loans,” it may be useful to schedule weekly, biweekly, or monthly smaller goals along the way. You may want to schedule periodic increases in your retirement contribution rate, make an extra loan payment each month, or even refinance your loans or

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A Look at Tax Planning for Retirement

After years of saving and planning for their golden years, many people nearing retirement fail to consider the tax burden they may face on income they receive after they stop working. While you will likely see a reduction in the amount of taxes you owe after the age of 65, you still need to plan ahead if you want to minimize your tax bill from the IRS. Social Security Benefits Depending upon your total income and marital status, a portion of your Social Security benefits may be taxable. For a rough estimate of your potential tax liability, add half of your Social Security benefits to your projected income from all other sources. This figure is your adjusted gross income (AGI), plus any tax-free interest income from municipal bonds or foreign-earned income. Up to half of Social Security benefits are taxable if this sum, which is called your provisional income, exceeds $25,000 for singles or $32,000 for married couples filing jointly. However, up to 85% of Social Security benefits are taxable if your provisional income is above $34,000 for single filers or $44,000 for married couples filing jointly. Use the Social Security Benefits Worksheet in the instructions for IRS Form 1040 to calculate the exact amount of taxes owed. Rather than writing a large check once a year, you can arrange to have taxes withheld from your Social Security benefits checks by completing Form W-4V and filing it with the Social Security Administration. Other Income Sources In addition to collecting Social Security benefits, most retirees receive their income from a variety of sources, including distributions from 401(k) accounts and individual retirement accounts (IRAs); payouts from company pensions and annuities; and earnings

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