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4 smart financial planning moves for new year—and beyond

Start the new year off right by revisiting your goals and thinking about life events on the horizon.
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Financial goals are some of the most popular New Year’s resolutions. As you’re making yours, it may be smart to think about the bigger picture: being more proactive about your financial planning. Take advantage of the energy a new year brings to set personal milestones now.
The earlier you start making smart financial planning moves, the more time you’ll have to benefit from their impact. Here are a few things you can do to help you this year and beyond.
  • Revisit your goals
  • Think about life changes
  • Keep your loved ones informed
  • Consider tax impacts
     

1. Take a fresh look at your plan and goals

If it’s been a while since you’ve revisited your financial plan, or if you’ve never formally put one together, start by checking in on your goals. Have they changed in a way that means you should revisit your financial plan? For example, being closer to retirement may mean you’re thinking more about retirement income. Is your plan currently set up to get you where you want to go?

What are your financial resolutions?

80% of people make a ­financial New Year’s resolution. Here are some top priorities:

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2. Think about life changes on the horizon

Big events, such as the wedding of a child or your retirement, can have a major impact on your financial future. Thinking about those events now may give you more options for adjusting your plan, potentially leaving you in a better financial position when they actually take place.
It’s not just life events you can plan for, but lifestyle changes, too. If you’re considering purchasing a second home, it might be smart to determine your financing options now, in case interest rates rise as anticipated. You may also want to consider moving some taxable investments into something more liquid so you have the cash to cover that home renovation. Shorter-range goals can be just as important as long-term goals, and you’ll want to make sure that how you’re planning to reach what’s important to you now keeps you on track for the future.

Consider life events that may impact your plan

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3. Keep your loved ones informed

Any changes to your goals and your financial plan can impact more than just you. Changes can affect long-term plans, including how you manage your estate, pass on assets and more. That’s why one of your goals should be to keep loved ones informed of your plans. The majority of both parents and adult children think regular financial conversations are important. 1
Holding a family meeting is one way to help be sure everyone is on the same page. Items that you can discuss include your estate plans, any values you want to be sure your family maintains, how you’ve prepared for future life events and charitable causes that are important to everyone.

Have you had a family meeting?

A majority of parents and adult children think it’s important to have family discussions about money.
 
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4. Account for tax implications

As you consider your goals, also consider how adjustments to your plan could impact your taxes—this year and down the road. It’s possible to be proactive and strategic about the type of accounts where your assets are held and whether they are taxable or tax-advantaged. This strategy, called asset location, may help you minimize your tax exposure.
If you’ve maxed out tax-advantaged accounts like a 403(b) or IRA, other investment options may include annuities or life insurance policies. To achieve your charitable giving goals, start early and plan out your strategy to make sure your generosity has the maximum effect possible on your taxes. You also may want to think about a donor-advised fund, which may give you more control over how your donations are used and may provide you with a tax break in the year that you fund it. You’ll also want to consider the capital gains implications of any investments you may sell to help fund life events or short-term goals.

Get off to a great start

Capitalize on the energy and fresh start of a new year by revisiting your goals and making sure your financial plan is still aligned with them. A TIAA advisor can review your current progress on both short- and long-term goals with you and develop strategies and an action plan to improve your chances of reaching those goals.
Remember that a financial plan isn’t a static document. By being proactive and working with an advisor to prepare for life changes, you can give yourself more opportunities to pursue your goals effectively this year and into the future.
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1 TIAA 2017 Family Money Matters Survey.
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