The New Year is here, and the battle cry of “New Year, New Me!” can be heard from all corners. Folks are back at the gym, eating their veggies, participating in Dry January, and hitting the pillow at 9 p.m. sharp.
The renewed energy and mindset this time of year are contagious and inspire us to live better physically.
It’s also the perfect time to think about your financial health.
And by “financial health,” I mean thinking beyond your budget for the year.
What do you want the end of 2023 to look like for you? Are you contemplating retirement? A cross-country move? Or are you inspired to travel more now that the kids are out of college and on their own?
Whatever your dream, you need to forge the financial path to get there.
That requires first determining where you are.
Charting Your Financial Course
Step 1: Review your finances
Review your financial plan. If you don’t have one, work with an advisor to create one. Think of your financial plan as taking a road trip with GPS. Before you can tell the GPS where you want to go, you have to tell the GPS where you are. Revisiting your plan with your advisor helps provide the baseline for what resources you have at your disposal.
Step 2: Align your wants and financial needs
Once you’ve established your financial foundation, it’s time to think about how they relate to your goals.
Let’s say you want to save more money for retirement. The obvious question becomes, “Are your financial habits aligned with that goal?” Similarly to how losing 10 pounds requires cutting back on desserts and eating healthier foods, saving money means looking at where you are losing money and reallocating it.
But that’s not the only way to look at a goal like this one. Sometimes you need to think differently, which leads us to examining these five areas: taxes, mortgages, qualified plans, college, and other large expenses.
Step 3: Consider multiple paths to achieve your goals
Let’s continue with the example of saving for retirement. The popular notion is that we all need to save a lot for retirement because everything is expensive and people live longer.
What matters more is saving the right amount in the right places.
Think about it: You could save a bundle of money, but if you’re keeping it in a cookie jar or under your bed, is it working for you in the long run?
Those are extreme examples, but they illustrate the point: strategic allocation provides options, freeing up your mind to the possibilities, instead of stressing about pinching pennies at Starbucks.
Step 4: Prepare for road bumps along the way
Now let’s consider the other side of the retirement equation: withdrawals. Yes, there’s planning to be done in this phase, too, especially with the roller-coaster markets at the forefront of our minds.
Much like the contribution phase, the withdrawal phase of retirement comes with its own popular notion: that longevity —outliving your retirement savings — is your most significant risk.
But what doesn’t get as much attention is sequence of return risk; the risk that you choose to retire when the market is at its worst.
If the market declines in the early years of retirement while your making withdrawals, then the value — and therefore the longevity — of your money is impacted.
In other words, the timing of your withdrawals is as important as where your money is located.
Withdrawal strategies — timing your distributions appropriately while leveraging other aspects of your finances — are one way to mitigate that risk. Reallocation, diversifications and sequencing are others.
These are just some steps to creating a financial strategy for the year ahead. If you’re ready to take the conversation further, schedule a financial check-up with the Kaspian Group, where we help clients feel assured with the right amount of information that’s right for them. Contact us at email@example.com to begin charting your financial course for 2023!