Spring Clean your Finances

Updated 27 weeks ago Special to HuntingtonNews.Net

by John Burdette

After a long, snowy Winter, Spring has finally arrived. Closets and garages are flung open and unnecessary items are discarded and the cold weather gear is packed away. This seasonal tradition of Spring Cleaning can also be a good time take a look at your finances. Life inevitably delivers change and to ensure your financial goals stay on track it is beneficial to use a method to Reduce, Review, and Rebalance.

A great way to reduce complications in your financial life is to consider consolidating investment accounts. Diverse investments can be held in a single brokerage account or self-directed IRA, making them easier to manage and track. Often times, these separate accounts have fees that may be reduced by consolidation. Another step to simplify your life is to reduce the paperwork that fills your mailbox. Regulations today often mandate investment providers to mail out endless streams of notices, disclosures and statements. Most of these documents are now archived online and required documents can usually be delivered via email. By signing up for electronic document delivery, you will greatly reduce your paper volume and you will have access to your records on demand. You may also find that you can save a few dollars, as many companies now charge a fee to deliver paper documents and statements.

An increasingly important step, due to the rise in identity theft, is to review your credit report. By law, a free copy of your credit file can be obtained each year at annualcreditreport.com. When reviewing your credit file, look for inaccuracies and activities that are unfamiliar. A review your company’s retirement plan contributions may be in order. Are you fully participating to the match? Can you afford to step up your contribution? If you received a 2% raise last year, it may be a good idea to try to increase your retirement contribution by 1%. You will still realize a pay raise and can also make a big difference in your retirement security. Also, you still have time before the April 15th tax filing deadline to make 2013 IRA contributions of up to $5500 or $6500 if you are over 50 years old.

The final step in your financial spring clean is to consider a rebalance. This includes examining investment allocations and making adjustments to stay within your stated risk tolerance. Let’s say five years ago you set out with a moderate risk profile and decided to invest your money 60% stocks and 40% bonds. If you have not rebalanced your investments, it is very likely that you now have a stock allocation of 70% or more with the recent solid stock market performance and sluggish bond returns. Stocks historically provide more return, but they also are more volatile. In this example, without rebalancing, your portfolio would have grown into a more aggressive risk profile while you are five years closer to retirement.

By using the Reduce, Review and Rebalance method you will have a basic framework to improve and organize your financial life. Don’t let another season pass by without making your financial plan a priority.

*The information provided is not intended to provide specific advice and should not be construed as recommendations for any individual. To determine which investment strategies may be appropriate for you, consult with your financial, tax or legal professional. All investments involve risk including the potential for loss of principal. Past performance cannot guarantee future results.

Securities and advisory services offered through National Planning Corporation (NPC), Member FINRA/SIPC, a Registered Investment Adviser. Fourth Avenue Financial and NPC are separate and unrelated companies.

john.burdette@natplan.com

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