1. Know the impact of your saving and spending.
Clarity around what you are saving or spending is one of the greatest tools you have when it comes to managing your financial success. Knowing whether your goals for the future are realistic and doable is a matter of running the numbers when goals are established.
But staying on track means revisiting those numbers periodically and as your circumstances change, and making sure that your actual saving and spending matches your projections. While you may not hit the mark every year, it’s important that your trend line agrees with your goals. If your saving or spending rates consistently conflict with your targets, an adjustment to your goals is in order.
2. Automate where it’s helpful. Examples:
• If you’re still working, maximize the dollars that move automatically from your paycheck to your 401k or 403b. This is the gold standard for seamlessly paying your (future) self first—and cornerstone of almost every retiree success story.
• Ditto for your Roth and Traditional IRA contributions.
• If you’re 70½ or older, establish a periodic distribution to cover your annual required minimum distribution. Depending on your situation, you may want to direct these dollars into a taxable account for reinvestment.
3. Access your Social Security statement.
If you are age 60 or older, you should receive an annual statement via regular mail from the Social Security Administration. Those younger than 60, who have not established an online account with the SSA and are not receiving benefits, should receive these mailings every five years, beginning at age 25. Anyone can request a statement sent via regular mail with this form.
For anytime access and management of your benefits information you can set up an online account with the SSA. The “my Social Security” account allows you to review your earnings, compute your benefits at various ages, and make changes to your account, including direct deposit instructions.
4. Check up on your beneficiary designations.
Because they have a kind of set-and-forget feel to them, beneficiary designations that should be updated can be easily overlooked. Has there been a shift in your family circumstances or a change in a key relationship? Review your accounts to be sure that your beneficiaries continue to reflect your wishes. You can find your designations on your Raymond James statement or in Investor Access online under the “Account Services,” then the “Retirement Account Info” tabs.
A special note about trusts as beneficiaries: while it may be possible or necessary to establish a trust as a beneficiary for IRA assets, great care is needed to meet the proper requirements. There are several potential traps for the unaware, most notably those that negate your ability to stretch distributions after the death of the original owner. Always work with a qualified attorney and consult with your financial advisor when making this decision.
5. Share relevant information with your advisor.
Are you enjoying a new car? Planning a wedding? Is there a baby on the way? When big things are happening in your life, let your advisor know about the effects on your finances. Some investors may keep information from their advisors to avoid unwanted advice, or because they seek separate management of a portion of their assets. However, a “blind spot” might diminish your advisor’s ability to maintain the best overall portfolio strategy for you.
6. Meet with your advisor. More than once if necessary.
Take full advantage of the specialized tools, objectivity, and experience of your advisor and his or her support team. The most logical meeting is the one that follows the delivery of your annual report, but don’t default to one-and-done for the year.
Gather your questions and open issues, especially those that might pop up in the months after your annual strategy meeting, and don’t be shy about scheduling another face-to-face meeting. Remember that your advisor has dealt with many different market cycles and hundreds of client situations, and that we are here to help you.
By Joan Hill / Communications Coordinator
Please remember that past performance may not be indicative of future results. Different types of investments involve varying degrees of risk, and there can be no assurance that the future performance of any specific investment, investment strategy, or product (including the investments and/or investment strategies recommended or undertaken by TGS Financial Advisors), or any non-investment related content, made reference to directly or indirectly in this article will be profitable, equal any corresponding indicated historical performance level(s), be suitable for your portfolio or individual situation, or prove successful. Due to various factors, including changing market conditions and/or applicable laws, the content may no longer be reflective of current opinions or positions. Moreover, you should not assume that any discussion or information contained in this article serves as the receipt of, or as a substitute for, personalized investment advice from TGS Financial Advisors. To the extent that a reader has any questions regarding the applicability of any specific issue discussed above to his/her individual situation, he/she is encouraged to consult with the professional advisor of his/her choosing. TGS Financial Advisors is neither a law firm nor a certified public accounting firm and no portion of this article’s content should be construed as legal or accounting advice. A copy of the TGS Financial Advisors’ current written disclosure statement discussing our advisory services and fees is available upon request.