New Year’s resolutions are typically about eating less and exercising more. Raymond James suggests focusing on your fiscal health. The firm has outlined 12 resolutions that may help you move toward attaining your financial goals in 2014.
1. Update your personal balance sheet by evaluating your assets and liabilities. Determine what your financial goals are and consider any adjustments you need to make to attain those goals.
2. Review your budget and spending habits. Start with what you realistically expect to have as income, then assign those dollars to your various expense categories.
3. If you are married, review the titling of your accounts to ensure there are no complications when it is time to address your estate. A surviving spouse can’t easily access bank or brokerage accounts if they are titled only in his or her deceased partner’s name.
4. Designate and update your beneficiaries. Changes in your life such as marriage, births, divorce or deaths may necessitate changing these.
5. Evaluate your cash holdings and where your reserves are located. It’s recommended that you have at least six months of easily accessible cash reserves for living expenses set aside should you need it.
6. Revisit your portfolio’s asset allocation and determine whether your risk exposure is still in line with your tolerance and long-term financial goals. Risk tolerance changes according to your age, income needs, financial goals and net worth.
7. If you are retired, evaluate your sources of income. Most retirees have several sources of income, including Social Security, pensions and retirement portfolios. Think about how secure each source is.
8. Review your Social Security statement to ensure all of your earnings over the years have been recorded accurately. Establish an account online with the Social Security Administration at ssa.gov to view your statement.
9. Review the tax efficiency of your charitable giving. Think strategically about your contributions -- donate low-cost-basis stocks rather than cash or consider establishing a donor-advised fund. Give, but do so with an eye toward reducing your tax liability.
10. Check to see if your retirement plan is on track. Losses incurred during the recent recession may have delayed your retirement plans. Evaluate any changes you need to make.
11. Take the time to make any updates or changes now that you have an understanding of what needs to be addressed.
12. Make an appointment with your financial advisor to review your portfolio and retirement plans so you will be prepared for 2014.