2016 has been one crazy financial ride. From record lows when the year opened to the DOW nearly reaching 20,000 before the last minutes of 2016 tick to a close, now is the perfect time to position your finances for success in the New Year.
Some of you may recall that the first 28 days of 2016 were some of the most dismal days Wall Street had seen in years. Fear crippled the markets and many investors wondered if there was any hope in sight. (CNN Money)
Fast forward 10 months and now investors are dealing with a new reality: record all-time highs. The DOW closed on December 23rd at just under 20,000 at 19,933.81 with the NASDAQ and S&P all showing huge gains as the year quickly races to a close.
As a long-term investor, daily gains and losses in the stock market shouldn’t have much of an impact on your investment decisions, but they can certainly cause you to ring your financial advisor to check in on your diversified portfolios and enjoy a conversation about what the rallying markets may mean for you personally.
Getting your finances ready for 2017 in today’s economic environment isn’t just smart, it’s a natural response to all the known and unknown changes ahead for the New Year. That being said, it’s also important to remain objective when making financial decisions and to not let fear or emotions guide your choices. Here are a few steps you can take right now to ensure you’re on the path to success in 2017.
1. Take stock of where you are and write it down
How much are your investments worth? Now is the time to take a look and see how your portfolio performed this year. Any surprises? Despite the slow start to the year, 2016 has finished up strong.
2. Review your debts
How much debt do you have and how are you doing with paying it down? Are you on track with your plan? This is the perfect time of year to celebrate the progress you’ve made so far to pay down certain debts and reset the game plan for 2017. Remember, it’s always good to pay down your highest interest debts first and then move on from there. Also, with borrowing rates headed up, don’t rush to pay down that low rate mortgage.
3. Assess life changes and transitions
Do you have any major life changes on the horizon this year? Moving? New child? Retirement? If 2017 is going to be a transition year for you, better to get with your financial advisor sooner rather than later to assess your financial situation and make any necessary adjustments to help make your transition as smooth as possible and keep you on track to reach your financial goals.
4. Check in with your emergency fund
Yes, your emergency fund needs a tune up too. Have you drawn from your emergency fund? Do you need to replenish it back to 3 to 6 month’s worth of expenses? Maybe you’re still building it – either way, check in to see where it’s at and make a plan to build up your emergency fund if it’s a little leaner than it should be.
5. Recalibrate your financial goals
To prepare for 2017, now is the time to reset your goals for the coming year. Whether you have specific savings goals, investment objectives, or debt elimination, be sure to you and your family are on the same page about what you’re working towards in 2017. Keep your goals simple and give yourself two to three so you don’t overwhelm yourself. The trick is to set goals that are realistic, trackable, and ones that you’ll be able to hold yourself accountable to.
[Related article: How to Achieve Your Goals]
Reviewing your investments and making adjustments, revisiting your pay down plan for any debts you’re working through, planning for life transitions, giving your emergency fund a checkup, and recalibrating your goals are all areas a financial advisor can offer tremendous value to you and set you up for financial success.
Regardless of where the market are performing on any given day, setting yourself up for financial success at the start of the New Year begins with you and your personal situation. Don’t hesitate to reach out to your financial advisor to go through this exercise together.
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