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Get your Financial House in Order During Quarantine: Complete Our Financial Wellness Checklist

 

Research points out a trait of successful people: they use what is available to them, i.e. when given lemons, make lemonade. In the middle of a stressful situation, it is often hard to focus, but many of us have something now that we have often found lacking in the past - time.  So, if you are one of those individuals with some extra time, this is a good opportunity to get your financial house in order. We have provided a "to do" list to address some of those tasks:

  • Get a financial plan or, if it’s been more than 12 months since you've reviewed your plan or you have had a major life change, update your existing financial plan.
    1. This will help you appropriately set or modify your investment strategy. Remember the old adage: if you have no direction, any road can be made to look good (even the wrong one).  
    2. Reexamine your spending and savings levels. This is ideally done in conjunction with a review of your most recent tax return (completed or in process). Remember your 2019 tax filing deadline is July 15, 2020. This review may indicate an IRA contribution would be useful (assuming you make it before you file your 2019 tax return).  
    3. Remember required minimum distributions (RMDs) are not required in 2020. This may create an opportunity to reduce your taxable income in 2020 if you have other sources to cash to draw from.  
  • Think about your financial legacy
    1. Make sure your estate documents are up to date. Remember that state and federal laws both govern estate settlement regulations, and these laws can and do change. Don't make settling your estate more difficult for your heirs.  
    2. Make sure your heirs know where all your assets are and what should be done with sentimental items. Fullen Financial offers a "Trustees or Executor Instructions in the Event of Disability or Premature Death" worksheet, available upon request. This can address such items as:
      • Making sure your granddaughter gets the children's book you used to read when she was five so she will remember you whenever she looks at it. You can even tell them exactly where it is stored.
      • Your son's first bike which you kept in the crawlspace of the basement.  
      • A bank account at Small Town S&L that we never closed because we wanted to continue to support them.
      • Location of a relative's work on family history.
    3. Prearrange your funeral. Never a pleasant task, but your loved ones will thank you.
  • Take steps to reduce your vulnerability to fraud
    1. Freeze your credit. Fraud is high now and likely to get worse; this is the best protection available from fraud and identity theft. If you need to unfreeze, all you need to do is go online and enter your PIN. Even young people developing credit should take this step.  
    2. Set-up your online Social Security account. This also protects against fraudsters and is even recommended for young people. Check it annually to be sure your earnings are correct.
    3. Check on parents and grandparents (or any elderly individuals, particularly those on their own). They can be particularly vulnerable to fraud. If you receive an email or phone-call threatening fines or legal action if you do not respond promptly, it is probably a scam. The IRS does not "issue warrants", and no reputable bank will ask you to follow a link to "verify your account information" for example. If you are unsure about the legitimacy of something you receive, contact the company or agency in question directly, DO NOT click a suspicious link or call back a number leaving you a suspicious voicemail.
  • Talk to your young adult children about finances.
    1. Encourage them to set up a financial plan. Fullen Financial Group has a program available to educate young people about credit, savings and investing. While they may have fewer assets, they have the important advantage of time. They can also be particularly vulnerable to harmful advice.
  • Make sure your resume is up to date if you are still working.
    1. While the job market is not very robust right now, opportunities will open and you will want to be ready,
      • Never stop networking.  
      • Take this opportunity to upgrade your skills and take an on-line course
      • Complete any required professional education

 


 

 About the Author: Milt Fullen is a CPA and CFP® with more than 30 years of experience in the financial services industry. He is a multi-year winner of Columbus Monthly’s Five Star Wealth Manager Award, and Fullen Financial Group ranks among Columbus Business First’s top fee-only financial planning firms in Central Ohio. We have helped over 200 individuals and families prepare for retirement, and we manage more than $157 million of assets on behalf of our clients. Our team of professional advisors has a wealth of experience and the best credentials in the industry, supported by the latest technology tools and a dedicated client service team.

Contact Milt by email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Disclaimer:

All expressions of opinion reflect the judgment of the authors on the date of the post and are subject to change. All investments and investment strategies have the potential for profit or loss. · Content should not be viewed as an offer to buy or sell any of the securities mentioned or as personalized financial advice. Legal and tax advice is general in nature. You should always consult an attorney or tax professional regarding your specific legal or tax situation. Fullen Financial Group is not engaged in the practice of law. · Hyperlinks on our posts are provided as a convenience. We cannot be held responsible for information, services or products found on websites linked to ours.