Make Appoints to Conduct A Year-end Financial Review

By:  John Ingrisano, CLU

Meet with your clients before December 31to review their finan¬cial situation and help them get organized for 2017.  

Here is a short checklist of what to discuss, issues that should be addressed before the stroke of midnight on December 31:

___Go over (or set up) your household budget.  This is the single best way to consistently get the best value for the money they spend.  Encourage them to keep it simple, refer to it often, and revise it as needed.

___Discuss the advantages of reducing their credit card balances to zero.  Remind them that many people live by the motto:  "If I can't afford to pay cash, I can't afford to buy it.”  Recommend that they use credit cards only for emergencies and travel.  

___Suggest that they consider pre-paying next year's real estate taxes.  Writing the check -- better yet, arranging for your mortgage holder to forward the money -- before December 31 could reduce their 2016 income tax bill.

___Encourage them to make charitable contributions before the end of the year.  

___Discuss if they are in a position to take advantage of the gift tax exclusion before the end of the year, if they are looking for ways to begin transferring their estate to the next generation.  

___Talk about whether they have established a systematic savings plan.  If not, recommend starting one.  A reasonable three-year goal: to stock¬pile a "cash cushion" equivalent to six month's income for emergencies and opportunities.

____Hand in hand with the above, discuss their retirement savings.  Do they have IRAs?  If so, are they funding them on an ongoing basis?

___Recommend they review their wills.  If their wills are not current, encourage them to meet with their attorney and update it immediately.

___Finally, go over their life insurance coverage.  Make sure it has kept pace with their income and family responsibilities. Adequate life insurance is still the best way to protect their family's financial security if they die premature¬ly.  

The bottom line:  Help your clients start 2017 on the right foot by helping them take stock of their needs and then tak¬ing the necessary steps to adjust and update their plans. 
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