With election day behind us and two months remaining in the year 2020, what are the best things to be thinking about or doing as we approach the holidays and yearend? Here is a list of things I’m reflecting on personally with regards to my own financial house:
- Be grateful for where you are, what you have, and with whom you may spend your time with. Never has this been more important than it is right now. Today we find ourselves living in a world of uncertainty in both our personal and financial lives. We can easily be consumed by this and let fear get the best of us. OR we can take a step forward in faith and know that everything will be ok and work out all right but perhaps not exactly how we envision it. The choice is ours.
- Set time aside to reflect on 2020 and more actively consider the possibilities of 2021. This includes personal growth, professional growth, financial decision making, and goal setting in the near and far term. It important to begin to explore what’s important to you and those you care about now, before the new year begins. Get ahead by setting time aside and outlining priorities that are important to you in 2021. Sharing this with a significant other helps in the collaboration together. Having a conversation and being able to think proactively as you look forward together is beneficial. Without this action you are more likely to react to what comes next. Rarely if ever do good decisions arrive from reacting. Personally, I’ve found setting goals much more attainable when tracking them every twelve weeks. I’ve broken down my goals into four twelve-week periods to help me stay on track. This allows me to check in with myself (and family) more frequently on personal goals. It also allows me to stay on track with business achievements so I may make adjustments where necessary. This increases my probability of success in getting more accomplished in all areas of my life.
- Check in on your health-can you keep a routine going to and through winter to stay active and engaged both physically and mentally? IMO, far too much time and emphasis is placed on investments and financial planning without addressing one’s health. If you’re not taking care of yourself physically and mentally via exercising, walking, biking, etc. then your plan won’t work regardless how much you earn and save. I love to ride my bike and in winters past I’ve been inside on the trainer to avoid the cold months. This year I’m taking a new approach and will continue my outdoor riding all season long. I enjoy the freedom to think and peddle sometimes fast sometimes slow as I work through ideas in my head. The cold fresh air is good, getting my heart rate pumping is better, we’ll see how this goes.
- Schedule a day on your calendar now to update your balance sheet. I typically address this in late December. Rarely if ever do I view my investment statements when updating my balance sheet, just the numbers. I have a financial plan which directs my investments which each serve a purpose. If my plans haven’t changed then it’s likely that the investments don’t need to be changed. I do have auto rebalancing set up to take place each year on my accounts (my client’s too), so this is covered each February. The balance sheet illustrates where we are today so it may be compared with years past. Ideally, liabilities are shrinking and assets and cash increasing based on our own financial plumbing system.
- Review your own financial plumbing system which tracks where your money goes. Doing so allows you to identify “leaks” more quickly so they may be addressed and not go unnoticed. This provides time to increase savings and investments and moving money by using automation. Creating ACH instructions to various accounts allows for the money to flow more smoothly and does not rely on logging into your bank account and moving the money manually. It also saves time as you know exactly what’s being saved each month by the simple review of any bank statement. I take this opportunity to review the contributions to our boy’s 529 plans, our after-tax investments, and cash savings. It’s also valuable to accelerate any debt payments so you may zero out your liabilities and redirect the payment to another job description. In February 2020 just as we began to learn about the virus, I proactively increased our investments. Looking back that was a good decision that will look even better as time marches on. As unnatural as it feels, buying more companies at lower prices is one of the keys to financial security. This was all possible by having a plan, assigning a job description to all our accounts, and taking action. Increasing your after-tax investments may be the single best thing investors can do today once they have outlined a plan and time horizon on what they want to accomplish.
- Future fun & happiness now planning. This is a key point in every annual plan review we hold. You must have some fun short-term wins and activities to get excited around that make you happy. Granted, at least today, that likely may not be flying the family to a sunny destination with all you can eat chips & guacamole! What it can be is setting aside time to plan your next vacation or pick up a new hobby you might enjoy. Whatever it may be, explore it and set the time and money aside in advance to make it a reality.
As a “financial physician” the recommendations I prescribe to my clients are the same recommendations our family takes. If you have a question, seek a second opinion, or are disappointed in your current approach to planning we’d be happy to chat with you via the link below.