Hi everyone…Charlie McCullough here. In case we haven’t met, take a look at the blog post I wrote last week (link to blog post). For those of us who have been formally introduced, I have a question for you. How are your New Years resolutions going? I know this can be a touchy subject for some people, but I am really curious.
I see it every day when I head to the YMCA for my morning workout. The parking lot that was once barren in the month of December has taken on a whole new life. Even at 6 a.m., I find it difficult to park in my usual spot close to the front door. Every class is full and every weight machine is being used. And the treadmills…good luck trying to get on one of those for at least the next few weeks.
Yes, one of the top resolutions people make is to get in shape. And at least in the short term, many people have every intention of doing so. When I think about it, the same thing can be said for our financial planning as we start the New Year. My advisor at Financial Fiduciaries always reminds me that the New Year is the perfect time to do a portfolio health check. Here are some of the things that they suggested the last time we met:
Evaluate your 401(k) plan
If you have a 401(k) or other retirement plan through your employer ask if they will match your contributions. Some companies require you to set aside as little as three percent of your salary to receive the full benefit. It’s like getting free money! My advisor typically recommends putting in the largest contribution I can comfortably make. However, I recommend talking to your advisor to make sure that this option is right for your financial situation.
Review your portfolio regularly
I have to say, that until I started working with the Financial Fiduciaries team, this was one health check I seldom considered. I had the mentality that “everything will work out” but I rarely took the time to ensure that this was actually happening. I have learned that infrequently reviewing my portfolio only leads to investment woes down the road. You can’t put your investments on auto-pilot. Take the time to assess them at least once a quarter.
Rebalance Your Investment Portfolio
This leads me to my next point…re-balance your portfolio if necessary. After a review of your progress you will probably find that some of your investments did well and others not so well. This is why it is crucial to meet with your advisor and determine if it makes sense to re-balance your portfolio. Re-balancing allows you to enjoy the gains from your investments with the best returns, and purchase shares in the areas that have lagged behind.
Don’t abandon long-term investment goals
With all this in mind, it is always important to stick with your plan. There is a distinct difference between long-term net worth that is generated because of a systematic investment plan, and the investor who wants to make a quick buck. While the first investor created his wealth over a continued period of well planned investing; the second makes his money from luck rather than skill. It is important to keep on track and stay committed to your investment plan. Of course, there will always be the need to make adjustments as the market changes, hasty moves based on sudden short-term fluctuations will do no good in the long run.
While I am an avid do-it-yourselfer in many areas of my life, my financial plans are not among those I choose to take on myself. I have enough financial savvy to be dangerous; however, I am not accustomed to monitoring every little blip in order to make the best plans. Because of this, I recommend seeking professional help with financial planning. There are many options out there, but I have always felt most comfortable working with advisors who operate under a fee-only structure (like the Financial Fiduciaries Team). Working with someone who is not making a commission off of every recommendation gives me peace-of-mind to trust that they are looking out for my best interest.
So how are you doing with regard to your financial health? Have you reviewed your current situation? Do you have a solid (and current) plan of attack? Do you have an advisor who will help you make the very best decisions for your circumstances? We have a lot of time left in 2014…but I for one am looking forward to starting the year off financially fit.