Personal Finance Tips for the New YearDecember 30, 2014
Make time for fun and relaxation in the New Year by creating a strong and responsible financial plan for yourself.
The end of another holiday season brings with it a sigh of relief as we enter the New Year. Many people take the week between Christmas and New Year’s to “clean up” their office and home and create a “to-do” list for the next year. Frequently, there is unfinished business that rolls over from one year to the next.
In addition to putting your 2014 unfinished responsibilities on the top of your 2015 to-do list, here are a few simple ideas to minimize your financial stress for 2015.
Five Personal Finance Tips
- Consider refinancing your mortgage. If you’ve intended to refinance your mortgage but have not yet done so, now is the time to contact your bank or mortgage broker to begin the process. Earlier this month, the Federal Reserve claimed it would be patient in choosing when to raise interest rates, but rates are expected to slowly increase starting mid to late 2015 in accordance with economic environments. If your current mortgage rate is above the average market rate, or if you have a variable mortgage, refinancing may be a good option for you. Deciding to refinance takes into account many factors including your current principal balance, how many years are left on your mortgage, how long you plan on staying in your home, and closing costs, just to name a few.
- Evaluate your insurance coverage. It is a good practice to sit down every year and review your insurance needs and coverages. Changes in your personal circumstances can result in the need for new or different insurance coverages. A good financial plan evaluates the need for life, disability, and long-term care insurance. A thorough insurance review also looks at existing homeowner, auto, and umbrella coverages. Deductibles and special riders should be reviewed to make sure they are adequate and fairly priced. Many employers offer certain insurance benefits or the ability to purchase additional coverages, and these should be evaluated as well.
- Don’t make careless or unnecessary purchases. There are numerous software programs on the market that help you track your expenses. These programs frequently bring to light unnecessary purchases made throughout the year. Take the time to review how you spent your money during 2014 and identify 3-5 items that you can do without in 2015. Review your statements to identify automatic withdrawals that you set up during the year, and evaluate whether you are still using the product or service. Do not be afraid to cancel these if they are no longer of benefit to you.
- Start saving for college. With the average cost of a college degree ranging from $100,000-$200,000, the sooner you start saving for college the more likely you will be able to afford it. Consider a Section 529 plan, a Coverdell Education Savings Account, and U.S. savings bonds in your financial plans for 2015. College will be less of a burden if you begin saving now!
- Create or revise your estate plan. If you do not have a formal estate plan, the government has one for you! There have been significant changes to the estate tax laws both at the federal and the State level over the past few years. Chances are your personal circumstances have changed since you last reviewed your estate plan. If you are concerned about making sure your assets get to your loved ones in the most efficient manner, now is the time to review your estate plan. There are several tax planning opportunities available that will help you insure that your assets are protected and your family will benefit from your hard work. You should consult with your legal and financial advisors to create a plan that meets your personal needs.
Be sure to start the New Year off right by considering these five recommendations. By setting a clear and logical plan for your own financial needs, you will eliminate much stress for 2015!
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