Your Financial Planning Checklist | Rodgers & Associates
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Are You Keeping Up with Your Financial Plan’s Maintenance Schedule?

We all know that regularly maintained vehicles are more reliable, more durable, and have a higher resale value. What about your financial plan? Is a once a year check up on your investment perfor­mance enough?

Financial planning is a process, not just a once and done event. It is also about much more than managing invest­ments to get the highest return. Invest­ments are a key component, but there are many other items that should be considered as part of your financial ‘mainte­nance schedule’.
The first step (before you can drive off the lot) is to develop a compre­hensive financial plan. It’s important to take the time to set goals for where you want to be in the future or work with an adviser who can help you to get organized. A written plan should be developed to create a point of reference and should include an evalu­ation of your current income, bank accounts, investment and retirement accounts, real estate, business assets, insur­ances, debts and estate planning documents.
Below is a list of tasks that you or your adviser should then consider at each mainte­nance interval:

Annually

  • Review your initial planning assump­tions and make any necessary adjust­ments
  • Evaluate your income tax bracket to determine:
    • If you will be subject to capital gains or if taking losses (called ‘harvesting’) is appro­priate
    • If you should consider Roth IRA conver­sions
    • If you have withheld enough tax or if any estimated payments are necessary
  • Review your tax return to look for ways to minimize taxes for the following year
  • Review your tax return to look for any errors (yes, there can be mistakes!)

Quarterly

  • Review any upcoming financial decisions to be made
  • Evaluate your current income to determine if any increase or decrease might impact your need for tax withholding changes or quarterly estimated payments

Monthly

  • Evaluate your invest­ments to determine if they are performing in line with expec­ta­tions and appro­priate bench­marks
  • Replace any poor performing invest­ments with others that have been properly screened for suitability including management objective, consis­tency, low fees, turnover, etc. (for example: we use a 25-point screening process)

Weekly

  • Monitor prices, ratings and current events for any individual bond holdings in your portfolio
  • Evaluate your overall allocation between growth and fixed invest­ments to determine if any rebal­ancing is needed to restore your original target percentages

Daily

  • Review account balances and trans­action history to ensure proper execution of trades and any money movement between accounts

As Needed or When Changes Occur

  • Consol­idate your accounts to simplify the management of your finances
  • Track your spending habits to determine if you are living within your means and not negatively impacting your financial plan
  • Evaluate your potential sources of income that can be used in retirement
  • Determine an optimal tax-efficient withdrawal strategy for big expenses or everyday living needs
  • Make sure your insurance and estate documents are up to date to reflect any changes in family dynamics and new or updated assets
  • Review your income tax deduc­tions to maximize potential tax savings
  • Maximize retirement account contri­bu­tions where possible to reduce income taxes
  • Consider funding Roth IRAs to allow assets to receive tax-free growth and possible tax-free withdrawals
  • Consider Roth IRA conver­sions before drawing Social Security to maximize the lower income tax brackets
  • Consider distrib­uting chari­table gifts from your retirement accounts (once you are age 70 ½) or from appre­ciated invest­ments
  • Obtain quotes for long-term care insurance coverage to determine the potential cost and value of policy benefits
  • Review your liability coverage and upgrade to an umbrella policy if warranted
  • Consider opening Roth IRA accounts, 529 Plans or custodial accounts for your children or grand­children
  • Evaluate the best methods to save for college expenses for your children or grand­children
  • Coordinate your financial plan with all members of your profes­sional team including accoun­tants, lawyers and insurance providers
  • Commu­nicate your plans to family members or others who may be involved at some point to ensure your inten­tions are known

Your personal situation deserves specific planning and evalu­ation. Therefore, this is not a compre­hensive list that fits every need. But as you can see, there is a lot to evaluate on a regular basis to keep up with your financial plan mainte­nance schedule.

If you or your adviser are not keeping up with these tasks, you might find yourself in the financial repair shop! Contact Rodgers & Associates, where we work with you to develop, execute, and monitor a strategy that incor­po­rates many aspects of your financial life.