For most of the country, October marks a seasonal turning point. As temperatures cool and the leaves begin to drop we’re reminded that life, like the seasons, continues to change whether we’re paying attention or not. Children grow. The markets ebb and flow. The holidays come and go.
It’s hard to overstate the role that change plays in the planning process. That’s because financial planning is not a ‘one-and-done’ proposition. Think of your plan as an interactive roadmap to the future you desire for yourself and your family. Like life, your plan will need to accommodate twists and turns along the way and reflect your changing goals and priorities as you move through life. That’s why it’s critical to review your plan at least annually to make sure you’re still on track and share any important changes that may help you get where you’re going faster—like a promotion, bonus or inheritance. It’s equally important to share circumstances that might throw you off course—such as the need to care for an aging parent, an unanticipated job change or an unexpected medical bill.
Each milestone in life should also trigger a review of your financial plan, such as:
- Marriage, divorce or the death of a spouse
- The purchase or sale of a home
- Birth of a child or grandchild
- A job or career change
- Children going off to college
- Your own retirement
These are all important inflection points in life that require re-assessing goals and priorities and the strategies that support them. Your strategy is also impacted by the financial market, economic and geopolitical changes over time, making it important to have a disciplined strategy in place for managing risk that’s aligned with your goals and priorities at each stage of your life.
The month of October is also a good time to address any year-end planning goals as they relate to tax planning, holiday savings and your investments. Planning now enables you to implement any steps or strategies, such as maximizing contributions to retirement plan accounts or setting additional savings aside for the holidays. Year-end considerations may include:
- Investment portfolio tax harvesting strategies to help manage capital gains tax exposure
- Planning for year-end charitable gifts and donations
- Budgeting for holiday spending, including gifts and travel
- Managing any “use it or lose it” employer-based flexible spending account (FSA) balances
- Ensuring you’re contributing the maximum amounts to employer-sponsored retirement accounts, such as 401(k) or 403(b) accounts
- Taking required minimum distributions (RMDs) from your qualified retirement plan accounts by December 31st if you’re over age 70 ½, or working with your advisor to implement a Qualified Charitable Distribution (QCD) strategy
To learn more about putting a financial plan in place, reviewing your existing plan or obtaining help with year-end investment and tax strategies, call the office to schedule time to talk about your planning needs.
This communication is designed to provide accurate and authoritative information on the subjects covered. It is not, however, intended to provide specific legal, tax, or other professional advice. For specific professional assistance, the services of an appropriate professional should be sought.