What Are You Doing This Winter?
~ By Gerald Rome, Colorado Securities Commissioner ~
You know winter is here when January and February come rolling around. We have gotten past all the excitement of the holidays, and now we have two months of colder temperatures, less sun, and fewer distractions. On the positive side, we can think of them as quiet, peaceful months where we can reflect on our upcoming year and give some proper attention to things for which we are normally too busy.
Whether you are preparing for retirement, or are already retired, the years when you are learning how to live off a fixed income are the most important for giving your finances the attention they deserve. While it’s not the most exciting task, using time you might have during the winter months to review and make adjustments to your finances will help ensure that they will last as long as necessary. The following are some steps you can take to ensure that you are as prepared as possible.
First, be sure to either create or carefully maintain an orderly system for your investments and money management. Whether it be a designated drawer with organized files, a Quickbooks-type computer program, or one of the newer online personal finance tools that allow you to organize, manage, and even pay bills through one central program, keeping all your affairs in a place that’s easy to access and review on a regular basis is extremely important. However, remember that anytime you are managing files on a computer you need to be vigilant about cybersecurity. Speaking with an expert who can analyze and recommend protections is a great place to start.
Next, set up a meeting with your financial professional. The beginning of a new year is a great time to take a look at how things were managed in the previous year, and can also be beneficial in getting an early start preparing for tax season. When meeting with a professional, I always recommend taking a notebook to write down questions, notes, and next steps so that the things you discuss won’t be forgotten or overlooked once the meeting is done. It’s also helpful to review your statements side-by-side with your professional. Be sure you can explain what they mean in your own words, don’t just let your professional talk at you about what they mean. And if there is anything you don’t understand, speak up. Ask questions and don’t leave until you have clarity. This will ensure that you and your professional are making decisions based on what’s most suitable for your goals, and will also alert you to any changes or issues that may arise in future statements.
Finally, the beginning of a new year is always a good time to review documents pertaining to your wishes for power of attorney, wills, and other important considerations that would need to be in place should you face an emergency in the coming year.
Think of this January as a time to step back, take a look at some of the financial matters that tend to fall through the cracks at others times in the year, and give yourself some piece of mind regarding your financial security. Happy New Year, and happy investing in 2016.