A Financial To Do List for 2019

Photo by Cathryn Lavery on Unsplash

Most New Year’s resolutions are abandoned or forgotten by the end of the month.

If you need confirmation of this fact, just count the cars are in the parking lot at your local YMCA this Saturday and compare that to the number of cars you see a month from now.

Odds are parking at your local Y or gym will be a lot better in a few weeks.

Rather than tell you to save more, spend less or to get your finances in order (a wishy-washy goal list in the first place) let me suggest a short list of specific action items to check off your financial to do list before the year is over.

But why wait? If you apply yourself, you can probably cross these items off your list in the next couple months.

Five things to check off your financial to do list in 2019:

Update your will and estate planning documents. This one has been on your to do list for a long time. Make 2019 the year to get it done.

Besides updating your will, be sure to to review your health care directive, legal powers of attorney, and other documents related to your will and estate plan.

And don’t forget about your digital assets. When you die does your spouse (or anyone) have legal access to your online accounts, email, log in information and other electronic data? You may think they do, but unless you have specific documents in place, odds are good that you don’t.

Get your beneficiary documents in writing. If you have life insurance, brokerage accounts, an IRA, 401k or other types of financial assets, your beneficiary form determines who gets those assets when you die. Your will does not.

Don’t forget about secondary beneficiaries. Your beneficiary documents should include a secondary beneficiary in the event that the primary beneficiary dies before (or at the same time as) you.

Listing no beneficiary or the wrong beneficiary is a mistake that can’t be fixed after you die. Review your beneficiary documents to ensure you have the right primary and secondary beneficiaries on all your retirement accounts, life insurance policies, and other financial assets.

Review your life insurance. Maybe you have more than you need. Maybe you don’t have enough. If you have a term policy that was bought years ago, it could be about to expire.  If you have term insurance at work are you 100% certain that it will still be in force if you are no longer working at that employer, for example if you get sick, separate from service, then die?

Talk to your financial advisor or life insurance agent to review your insurance policies and discuss any next steps.

Freeze your credit. The only sure way to prevent another person from taking out credit in your name is to place a freeze at each of the major credit agencies. These include Experian, Transunion, Equifax and Innovis.

A quick tip: When you freeze your credit, you will get a password that will be required if you choose to unfreeze your credit in the future. Save your passwords in a super secure place where they won’t get stolen, lost or forgotten. I suggest a safe-deposit box.

Review your financial plan. Last time you looked your financial plan may have been based on account values that were at all-time highs. Now that the markets have come down, how are you positioned for retirement?

Your retirement probably hasn’t been threatened by the recent market downturn, but what if markets decline further?  Do a stress test to see if how your retirement goals will be affected and make adjustments accordingly.