Tax filing time is an ideal time to review your financial affairs. You have to gather information to prepare your tax return at this time. Why not take one more step and do something positive for your financial well-being?
The following suggestions will get you started on your financial review:
Hold a discussion with your family. Spouses and children need to share and prioritize their financial aspirations.
- Write down your financial goals. How much money will you need to meet each goal? When will you need the money, and how will you get it?
- Construct a net worth statement (a list of your assets and debts), and compare it to last year's statement. Are you gaining or losing ground?
- With your goals (and the effects of inflation) in mind, review the performance of your investments.
Take steps to protect what you already have. Goals may become instantly unobtainable if you lose your present assets or your income potential.
- Do you have adequate disability insurance coverage to replace take-home pay if you become incapacitated?
- Do you have enough life insurance if you or your spouse should die?
- Do you have replacement value property insurance on your home?
- Do you have adequate insurance for calamities such as automobile accidents or lawsuits? Note: Make sure that you need all of the insurance that you have. Do not duplicate employer-provided coverage. Review your coverage annually; do not just automatically renew policies.
Review your will and your estate plan. Did your situation change during the year (marriage, divorce, births, deaths, move to another state, for example)? If so, make appropriate changes to your will and estate plan.
Review your credit use. Keep your credit card bills current. If you're finding that hard to do, it's probably time to cut up some of those credit cards and get your debt under control.
Organize your records. If you had trouble assembling data for your financial review, you need a better system. Set one up.