In the event you just came in from Mars, you will note that we are getting ready to launch into the year 2008. This is generally the time of year when everybody and his dog begin to hit us over the head with all kinds of financial advice. It’s also the time of year which is usually referred to as “housekeeping time.” That’s where you take an annual review of your total financial picture. Not everybody does this, which is kind of unfortunate. Most people don’t seem to realize that during the last year, things have changed such as personal goals, financial plan, even life circumstances. According to Stoker Ostler Wealth Advisors (formerly Private Wealth Management), a fee-only wealth management firm based in Scottsdale, Arizona, this is the time to revisit key areas and see if changes need to be made that will better serve your needs. Cody Amis, senior financial planner at the firm, says “Just like getting an annual physical, doing maintenance on your house or having your car tuned up, you want to take a look at your total financial picture at least once a year. Accounting for life changing events can help steer you on the path to your dream of a secure future.” Amis is a firm believer that organizing financials annually will set the right tone for financial success. “It’s a myth that this is only for people who are older or wealthy,” he adds. “I can’t emphasize enough how important this process is for young families, single mothers, retirees, and anyone who owns a house or property.” He offers five tips to help people get organized: 1) Create a Statement of Net Worth. This, he says, serves as a snapshot of all of your individual assets and liabilities. 2) Review your Estate Plan. Amis advises that it is important to have a will, Revocable Living Trust, Durable Powers of Attorney, and Health Care Powers of Attorney. 3) Risk Management. He notes that it is also important to identify any significant changes to your family or your assets that may warrant an adjustment to your insurance policies. In other words, the advice is to make sure that your property, liability, and health insurance policies offer coverage consistent with your needs. 4) Review Your Retirement Plan. Amis says that the new year is an ideal time to maximize your retirement plan contributions or revisit the plan’s investment allocation. 5) Don’t Procrastinate. Make a commitment to have your financials in order by the end of January so that you can get the most out of 2008. In short, the sooner you get organized, the better. And a Healthy and Happy New Year to you and yours. See you in ’08.
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