2015 Personal Financial Tune-Up: Taxes, Retirement Planning, Assets, Investments, Debt, Expenses
It's the typical time of year to get your financial house in order. And, of course, that means different things for different people in different situations.
I break the task down into two categories:
- Tax Preparation
- Financial Overhaul
For the first, start gathering all the documents you'll need to file taxes for last year. Depending on your preference, you may be able to download them directly from your various financial institutions' websites, or you'll get them in the mail.
You know the drill by now: any interest forms, W2, investment cost/profit statements, etc. Start collecting them and putting them all together now, so you can file as soon as possible.
The financial overhaul is more complex, but I'll give you some solid steps to get started:
- Have you maxed out all tax-deferred investment/retirement accounts for 2014?
- How much did you make last year with respect to all forms of income? How does that compare to the year prior? On track? Satisfied?
- Prioritize your financial goals: Investment returns, financial security/retirement, education funding, disability protection, life insurance, estate planning, etc.
- Assess progress for each goal.
- Assess the value of all your assets: cash, stocks, bonds, real estate, metals.
- Make it automatic: Check on direct depositing as much as possible into retirement, tax-deferred, and savings accounts.
- Assess debt and the interest rate on it.
- Assess all sources of income: employment, investment, pension, business, and any other.
- Assess all loan expenses: mortgage, auto, credit card, personal, business.
- Assess insurance costs and coverages: health, life, disability, auto, homeowner's.
- Assess all other expenses: rent, utilities, maintenance, transportation, food, clothing, other basic, discretionary, taxes.
That should be a solid list to get you started. Leave no stone unturned for cost savings and investment increases.
As always, you know about your situation best.
Call it like you see it,
Nick is the founder and president of the Outsider Club, and the investment director of the thousands-strong stock advisories, Early Advantage and Wall Street's Underground Profits. He also heads Nick’s Notebook, a private placement and alert service that has raised tens of millions of dollars of investment capital for resource, energy, cannabis, and medical technology companies. Co-author of two best-selling investment books, including Energy Investing for Dummies, his insights have been shared on news programs and in magazines and newspapers around the world. For more on Nick, take a look at his editor's page.
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