2017. One quarter is done. You’ve had time to recover from the holidays and the Girl Scout cookies. Now, on to the next thing… setting yourself up for a wonderful year.
- Do a First Quarter Check-in. In order to complete your taxes, you had to get your information in order. Therefore, now is a good time to take a look at your financial statements and key personal and family documents. What’s happening in your brokerage account, your retirement account, and your savings? Is the asset allocation appropriate for your risk/reward profile? Do you have sufficient emergency savings? Do it. Take a look… go online or open the envelope.
- Talk to your friends and family about finances. Like your tax advisors, families and friends usually have their own version of hectic lives during the first quarter of the year — you’re recovering from the holidays; your kids go back to school; it’s time to confirm plans for spring break; and, of course, work resumes its normal pace. Now is a good time to check in with family regarding your goals for this year and beyond. It’s also wise to remind the important people in your life where key information and documents are kept and to have discussions about how you expect them to be involved in your life if you become injured or ill.
- Reach out and make appointments with your advisors. As you begin to review your statements, think about the last time you had conversations with your accountant or CPA, your estate planning and/or business attorney, and your financial advisor. The second quarter is a perfect time to talk with your advisors to make sure you are on track to accomplish your short-term and long-term goals. For many advisors, the time from the end of the calendar year until after Tax Day is busy and hectic. After tax filings are complete, advisors tend to have a calmer existence — it’s a great time to call.
- Make needed changes now. You have reviewed your statements, accounts, trust documents, and powers-of-attorneys. You’ve had important conversations with key people in your life. You’ve talked to your advisors. Your advisors might have indicated that all is good — you are all set for the year. Or, perhaps, one or two of your advisors have made some recommendations: something to be updated or a new approach based on your goals. Now is the time to make these updates. Yes, go ahead and talk to your family and friends about the recommendations. However, please circle around with your advisor and let her know how you would like to move forward. As a financial advisor, I frequently see recommended updates not implemented, which can lead to unfortunate consequences. Don’t be that person.
- Open your eyes, and listen up. In order to have a successful year, you have to be alert — alert to changes in your needs and goals or to changes in your work situation. Be open to opportunities, and, of course, check in at least periodically with domestic and global news. Our lives are fluid. There is so much happening just in the day-to-day process of living our lives. However, for all that is planned, there is a random element of living. You get a promotion. Your brother becomes ill. Your child has a wonderful opportunity. There is some sort of global conflict. Be prepared. According to Leonardo da Vinci, “Blinding ignorance does mislead us.”