By Greg Farrall, PPC®, CWS®, CPFA®
This past year has been stressful, to say the least. With a war in Ukraine, unsettling economic outlooks, and concerns about inflation, it hasn’t exactly been the smooth recovery from the pandemic we had hoped for. As overwhelming as these issues are, it’s always a good time to take control of your finances to set yourself up for a successful 2023. Build up your financial confidence before the new year by following these 5 tips.
1. Assess Your Emergency Fund
Now is the time to ensure that you have enough money set aside in your emergency fund or create a plan to build this up over the next year. An adequate emergency fund should cover 3-6 months of necessary living expenses, including mortgage or rent, utilities, groceries, transportation, etc.
With all stock market uncertainty and recession fears, many experts have suggested maintaining a larger emergency fund, closer to 6-12 months of expenses. (1) If you’re single, or your household only has one source of income, consider saving on the higher end of this scale to make sure you’re covered in the event of a job loss or reduction in income.
However much you save, be sure this money is held in a highly liquid account. It needs to be readily available and easily accessible, but it should also be in an account that offers a competitive interest rate so that you don’t lose out on potential growth.
2. Review Your Asset Allocation & Invest with Impact
The end of the year is also a great time to review your asset allocation strategy and incorporate ESG and impact investing if desired. Given the dramatic market volatility and historic levels of inflation over the last year, it’s crucial that you evaluate your investments and make sure your portfolio is properly diversified. It should also be tailored to your specific risk tolerance level, ensuring that you are earning enough returns to keep up with inflation, but you are not overexposing yourself to risk.
If you are interested in using your funds to support environmental, social, or governmental issues (ESG), you can also consider impact investing as a way to earn returns while also promoting change on causes you care about.
3. Consider Charitable Donations
Charitable donations are another option that can be reviewed as the year-end approaches. The holidays are a great time to give money and assets to your favorite non-profits, churches, and organizations.
Charitable donations can be used as part of your overall tax strategy, or as part of a comprehensive estate plan. Both options provide many potential benefits including supporting causes you care about, reducing your taxable income, and reducing your taxable estate.
4. Use Up Your Employee Benefits
While every employee benefit plan has its own rules and regulations, many of them expire or reset at the end of the year. You worked hard for these perks, so be sure to use them before it’s too late!
Medical and Dental Benefits
Now’s the time to take care of all your healthcare needs before your deductible resets. Dental plans in particular often have a maximum coverage amount. If you haven’t used the full amount and anticipate any treatments, make it a priority to set an appointment before December 31st.
Flexible Spending Account
Like your health insurance benefits, you’ll want to use up as much of your FSA (flexible spending account) dollars as possible by the end of the year since you are only allowed to carry over $570 for the plan year ending 2022. (2) Also, keep in mind that the COVID-19 relief measures that allowed taxpayers to carry over their entire FSA balance are no longer in effect for 2022. (3)
That being said, check the restrictions on your account to see what the money can and cannot be used for, and take care of any needs you may have as allowed by your plan.
Sick and Vacation Time
Depending on your company, your sick or vacation time might expire at the end of the year. Check with your HR department to learn about any expiration dates. If it does expire, fit in a last-minute staycation or take some time off to work on projects you’ve been putting off. If you need to make any trips to the doctor, schedule those appointments now to make use of paid-time-off benefits before you lose them.
5. Revisit Your Plans and Policies
Lastly, take another look at your estate plan and insurance coverage. If you took the time and energy to create an estate plan, check it periodically to ensure all the documents are up to date and no major details have changed.
Your insurance needs may also change as the year goes by, so periodically review your coverages and designated beneficiaries to bring them up to date to reflect your current financial situation. For example, if you paid off debt, you may not need as much life insurance coverage since your family’s liabilities have decreased. You might also want to evaluate your need for other types of insurance, such as long-term care or disability insurance.
Partner With a Professional
At Farrall Wealth, we can help you take back control of your finances after a rocky couple of years. Together, we can work towards your financial New Year’s resolutions in 2023! Reach out to us today by calling our office at 219-246-2516, emailing [email protected], or scheduling a complimentary consultation online. Be sure to visit our website to learn more and connect with us on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.
Greg Farrall is CEO and owner of Farrall Wealth, an independent, boutique wealth management firm that is dedicated to helping women and business owners create customized financial plans that allow them to grow, protect, preserve, and distribute their wealth. Greg is known for being a problem-solver who walks his clients through whatever life throws at them. He prioritizes building long-term relationships and is passionate about going the extra mile for his clients so they can pursue their goals and live the lives they want. Greg has a bachelor’s degree in international business from the University of Wollongong in Australia and a bachelor’s degree in finance and marketing from Indiana University Bloomington. He is a Professional Plan Consultant® (PPC®) and a Certified Wealth Strategist® (CWS®) professional. And he recently received his Certified Plan Fiduciary Advisor (CPFA®) designation. You can listen to him on his financial literacy and business topic podcast, Money Matters With Greg, on iTunes, Google, and Spotify. He’s also on YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook at @FarrallWealth.
Greg is a pillar of his community and served as the 2013-14 co-chair for the United Way campaign, through which he helped raise $1.8 million for 38 nonprofit organizations across Porter County, Indiana. He also served as president of the Valparaiso Rotary Club. Currently, he is on the advisory board for the Kelley School of Business and Dean of Students’ board at Indiana University. He also holds a position on the Culver Academies parents’ board.
When he is not working, you can find Greg spending time with his family or investing in one of his many passions, which include cooking, Spartan races, fly fishing, and meditation. To learn more about Greg, connect with him on LinkedIn.
Securities and advisory services offered through LPL Financial, a registered investment advisor. Member FINRA/SIPC.
The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.
Socially responsible investing (SRI) / Environmental Social Governance (ESG) investing has certain risks based on the fact that the criteria excludes securities of certain issuers for non-financial reasons and, therefore, investors may forgo some market opportunities and the universe of investments available will be smaller.
No strategy assures success or protects against loss.