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How & Why to Do An Annual Financial Check Up

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Hello and welcome to this week’s episode of the Her Retirement Podcast. This week’s episode is entitled How and Why to Do an Annual Financial Checkup. Performing an Annual Financial Checkup is, of course, a precious practice to assess your financial health, set goals, and make any necessary adjustments for the coming new year before the distractions of the end of the year come. I believe fall is a perfect time to do a checkup or have one done for you so you can do this yourself with the steps I’m going to outline in today’s podcast, or maybe better yet for you, you can join my financial wellness workshop taking place on Thursday, September 14th, and we can do this together along with a small intimate group of other women I’m gathering so that we don’t have to do this alone and try to stumble and fumble and keep putting it off.

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This will force you to put it on your calendar, make a money date with yourself, and get her done. I’ll provide the templates, the software, the support, and a few other surprises when you join me for the workshop. It’s 90 minutes long and it’s only $27. You’ll walk away with a great picture of your financial health, a good set of financial priorities and critical action items for the remainder of 2023, and action items for 2024. Plus, I love surprises, so you’ll benefit from those, and you may even meet some new friends. So please consider joining me for the two sessions I’m offering on September 14th. One is at noon, and the other is at 7:00 PM Eastern Standard Time. To sign up, go to www.herfinancialcheckup.com, and I hope to see you there. However, if you decide to do your checkup yourself, here are the steps I recommend.

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Number one, gather all your financial documents and collect them, including bank statements, investment statements, credit card statements, pay stubs, bills, insurance policies, tax returns, and any other relevant documents. Better yet, my suggestion is that throughout the year, you should organize and keep these all together in one place so that when you do your financial checkup or have one done, you have everything. You’re not scrambling and digging through desk drawers and file cabinets and who knows where else to find all this information. So, one of the steps we will discuss in the workshop is how to get organized and have easy access to all your financial documents. Number two, check your credit report. When was the last time you checked it? Did you know you can pull your credit report free once a year on annualcreditreport.com? Of course, having a good credit score and credit history can help you get lower interest rates on various purchases, which results in you saving money.

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Take a financial inventory to determine your current debt expenses and income. We’ll help you understand what specific areas of your finances need the most attention and help you prioritize accordingly. My software platform, called the Financial Inventory and Analysis Tool, or Fiat for short, is a tool you can use to do this and then continue to track things like your cash flow, spending, net worth, retirement projections, and so much more. You can access a free trial of that software at www.fiatool.com. If you’re getting closer to retirement, let’s say, I don’t know, five years or less, you may prefer my retirement readiness software platform that includes everything in the Fiat tool, but it also has an e-class on money and retirement and other retirement-focused content to make sure you are truly ready. You can also get a free two-week retirement readiness software trial on my website at www.herretirement.com.

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Alright, number four, review your budget and track your spending. So, many Americans don’t manage a budget, which is okay. Still, once a year, it’s a good idea to take a close look at your budget, what you spend your money on, and if you do have a budget, how well did you adhere to it, or maybe you have a mental budget, it’s great to go through your statements and uncover where did you kind of fall off the train? What things can you reel back in in the new year? Where did you spend more than you thought you would? Where were you losing a little bit of financial control? Analyze your income and expenses to identify areas where you may have overspent or saved more than you expected. You’ll have perhaps a pleasant surprise. This is called knowing your cash flow, and it’s essential to know and track it. You can use the more brilliant spending tracking tool in either the software platforms, the Fiat tool, or the retirement readiness platform on her retirement.

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Next is to track your net worth. Knowing your cash flow and monitoring your net worth are two financial benchmarks that you need to start and then continue to follow. Calculating your net worth is easy. You subtract your total liabilities and debts from your total assets, which will give you your net worth, and hopefully, it’s positive. And the goal of being wealthy is to improve your net worth as time goes on. This will give you an idea of your overall financial health and position, and you must compare it to previous years to track and celebrate your success. If you don’t follow things, you have no idea if you’re making progress, going backward, or just staying put. Number six is to assess your emergency fund. You want to ensure that your emergency fund is adequately funded or adequately funded.

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Financial experts recommend having three to six months’ worth of living expenses in this fund, and if it falls short, consider increasing your contributions in the coming year. Everybody’s emergency fund is different, so you must figure out what’s best for you. Sometimes, people feel more comfortable having up to a year in an emergency fund, and an emergency fund is best placed in either treasury bills or a high-yield savings account. And if you want some help with either of those, please get in touch with me. I do have a couple of recommendations for a high-yield savings account. You can also go to bankrate.com, which will pull up some online banks with great rates. Number seven, review your debt levels. You want to check the status of your debts, including credit card balances, loans, and mortgages. Assess whether you’ve made progress in paying down your debts and whether you need to adjust your repayment strategy.

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One of the things that’s also good is to look for any leakage that you may have in your spending, in your debts, or in things that you’re maybe spending money on that you aren’t aware of. So one day, I looked at my iPhone, looked at some of the subscriptions I was paying for, had no idea I was paying for these apps, and deleted them. I also have access to a tool that looks at this for you. It looks at the subscriptions you’re paying for and will identify those so you can cancel them and save money. It’s called money leakage, and I believe that being wealthy here is all about plugging those leakage points, focusing proactively on your savings and investments, and earning money. If you want access to that tool, you can go to her subscriptions.com, which I believe is the correct one.

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I will put it in the show notes and the transcript so that we can make sure you go to the right place, but I’m 99% sure it is her subscriptions.com. Alright, number eight, evaluate investments. Review your investment portfolio in your 401(k), IRAs or brokerage account to assess the performance over the last year. Of course, we’ve come out of that dip in the stock market somewhat, and we’re not back to where we were before, but we are doing better, so we should not be in such a; it shouldn’t make us feel so bummed out as we might’ve been last year. I didn’t even want to look at my accounts last year. Still, this year might make you feel a bit better if you go ahead and check those out and look at the performance. You want to ensure your asset allocations align with your long-term financial goals and risk tolerance, and you want to consider rebalancing if necessary.

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Number nine is tax planning. You want to review your tax situation and assess potential tax implications for the year. Consider tax saving strategies such as contributing to retirement accounts or maximizing deductions. If you haven’t opened a Roth IRA, you have until the tax deadline of 2024 to max out your Roth IRA and make a catch-up contribution. So if you need some information, check with me on that. Also, suppose you want to be proactive in thinking about the future or getting closer to retirement and want to know how to be genuinely tax efficient and keep more of your savings and investments in retirement. In that case, you can request a tax-smart retiree assessment. Go to www.taxsmartretiree.com, scroll down that homepage, and look for that assessment. It is worth its weight in gold—alright, number 10, insurance coverage.

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Review your insurance policies, including your health, life, auto, and home insurance. Often, with the Mass Health Connector, open enrollment starts in October, allowing us to look at health insurance coverages and see if there are ways to reduce the cost or improve the insurance we had during the previous year. You want to ensure you have adequate coverage and make adjustments if necessary. Of course, insurance is a crucial component of financial planning as it protects against various risks that could lead to significant financial losses. While the specific types of insurance you need can vary depending on your circumstances, there are different types of insurance that most individuals should consider. Number one is health insurance. Number two, auto insurance. Three, homeowners or renter’s insurance. Four, life insurance; five, disability insurance; six. Long-term care insurance. Seven. Umbrella insurance, which, for those of you don’t know, offers additional liability coverage beyond the limits of your auto home or renters, and it protects against large liability claims that could otherwise deplete your assets.

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Eight. Travel insurance. Nine. Pen insurance, 10. Identity theft insurance. 11. Business insurance if you’re a business owner, flood insurance. And finally, 13. Earthquake insurance. If you live in an earthquake-prone area, the specific insurance coverage you need depends on your lifestyle, financial situation, and where you live. It’s essential to regularly review your insurance coverage and adjust it as necessary to ensure that you are adequately protected against potential risks and financial setbacks. Consulting with an insurance agent or a financial retirement advisor can help you determine the right insurance policies for your circumstances, and this might be a great time to add that I am very close to deciding to get my insurance license so that I can help women protect themselves, their money and their family. I will have more information and news about that exciting new goal I’m potentially setting.

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So they say it’s never too late to start, so you can do anything regardless of age when you want to do it. I see such a huge need for women to protect themselves, their money, and their families that I’m motivated and excited about the opportunity. So, onto number 11, set financial goals for the following year. Reflect on your financial goals and objectives. Are there any new goals you want to arrange for the next year? Whether it’s saving for a vacation, paying off a specific debt, or increasing retirement contributions, having clear financial goals is essential, and of course, those goals should be tied to your life goals. From a lifestyle perspective, what do you want to do short-term and long-term? I was talking to one of my nieces about this. She’s approaching 40 and thinking, “Okay, when can I retire?

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She’s been picking my brain about those retirement years, how she wants to spend them, and what she needs to do to retire early to enjoy life doing non-work things: number 12, plan for major expenses. Identify any significant costs or financial milestones expected in the coming year, such as home repairs, tuition, or retirement, and plan how you will fund these expenses. And I always say plan for the unknown, right? This is part of the emergency fund, but think plan B; you always need a plan B. Some people call it a catastrophic fund, which is in addition to their emergency fund, or perhaps they combine it, and it’s for the, I don’t know, the water heater goes in your house or the roof leaks or the engine blows in your car, which just happened to us not too long ago.

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It is essential to have a plan B for those types of expenses. 13. Review estate planning. If you have an estate plan, review it to ensure it reflects your current wishes and circumstances. If you don’t have one, consider the Her Retirement Trust and Will resource I make available to people at www.getherwilldone.com. It’s high quality and affordable estate planning. I have used them, and I love the service. I highly recommend that because so many people don’t have a will, they don’t have trust, and they can walk you through when and why you would need trust. Number 14, update your beneficiary designations. Verify that these designations are on your retirement accounts, life insurance policies, and the other assets are up to date and aligned with your wishes. Number 15, save and invest for retirement. Ensure you’re contributing enough to your retirement accounts,

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401(k), IRA, or Roth IRA to meet your long-term retirement goals. Consider how you’re contributing to these different accounts, right? This is where tax planning comes in, but it’s not just throwing all the money in a 401(k) because you want to diversify into other tax buckets. So, if you’re not sure that you’re saving and investing in the right way in the right places, we can talk about that and get you connected with resources that can help you make sure that you are saving and investing in the right way for retirement. 16 charitable giving. Review your charitable giving for the year and plan your contributions for the following year. 17. Tax withholding and filing. Check your tax withholding to avoid any surprises when you file your taxes. Adjust your withholding if necessary and consider consulting a CPA. I have a great one in Massachusetts.

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He does work with people all over the country. If you want access to him. 18, create a financial calendar. Set up a financial calendar for the coming year, including important dates for bills, tax deadlines, and financial milestones. If you get super organized now, it will make the following year, 2024, much easier to manage. 19. Meet with a financial retirement coach and or advisor. If you have complex financial situations or investments, or you’re getting ready to retire, which conjures up a whole other set of issues and decisions you need to make, or you want to plan now for a better retirement like my 40-year-old niece, consider meeting with a coach like me or an advisor and my network to get the professional guidance that you need. 20. Document your plan; write down your financial goals and the steps you plan to take in the coming year to achieve them.

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This will serve as a roadmap for your financial success. I also highly recommend you purchase my new retirement personal info and emergency planner at www.heremergencyplanner.com. It’s relatively new. It’s 130 pages and captures all your essential and financial information in one place. This means you’ll know what you have and what you’re missing. This is also an incredible gift. You can leave your family in incapacitation or at your passing. Your family will be able to keep calm and carry on because they’ll have all the info they need about you and your personal life. And it’s also an excellent resource for writing down things you want your family to know about you, some of your memories. There’s a section where you can write a love letter to those you care about. It’s an excellent document to capture everything your family needs to know about you personally and financially.

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You can check that out. I’m also creating her retirement happier, healthier, wealthier journal, which is a little more, I guess, fun because you’re going to be able to journal and write down some of your dreams and your goals. And that’s going to be coming out soon. I don’t have a UR L because I’m working on it. So I’m excited about that. Happier, healthier, wealthier Journal 21, monitor your progress regularly and review your financial progress throughout the year, not just at the end. Adjust your plan as needed to stay on track. This is where a coach or an advisor can help you because they’ll help you monitor what’s going on, help you make those adjustments, and hold you accountable, one of the most significant values a coach or an advisor has. 22 is to stay informed.

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Keep yourself informed about changes in tax laws, financial markets, and economic conditions that may impact your financial situation. And I’m going to add 23, which is to get educated. It’s essential to stay informed of what’s happening, get educated above this money and retirement, and enlighten others. So I’m in the process of putting together a guide, a financial focus, money Guide for kids and teens because the onus is not just on the financial services industry, which they can do a good job not on schools, but on parents and grandparents to educate the young people in our world on this money stuff. That’s how they will be better informed and more financially secure adults. We won’t have the scary, scary statistics we have about poverty in retirement for many, many Americans. So this is one thing you can do proactively: not only educate yourself, but once these materials come out, you are certainly welcome to access them and share them with young families, children fam,ilies, and teenagers.

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They’re quick little guides I decided I wanted to put together to extend the information and education I’m putting out for her retirement to the younger generation. So stay tuned for that information. It’s a lot. So, I’m doing a workshop because it’s a lot to tackle on your own, and I hope you would consider coming to the workshop so we can work through all of this. Performing an end-of-year financial checkup is an excellent way to ensure that you’re making informed decisions and taking steps to secure your financial future. It’s a proactive approach to managing your finances and working toward those goals. And because I believe a better, more intentional life in retirement is more than money. I want to give you a couple of other quick non-financial steps and tips to consider as we enter this new fall season here in New England.

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It’s a beautiful time of year to get out, walk, be in nature, appreciate all the changing trees and leaves, and enjoy the season’s beauty. But first is physical wellness, so ensure you get those health checkups. I’ve made a list: the dermatologist, the regular doctor, the eye doctor, the dentist. It seems like fall is the time of year when I do all of that. But schedule that health checkup. And ladies, don’t forget the mammograms. Schedule those with your healthcare providers. Discuss concerns, medications, and recommended screenings. Be proactive about your health. It’s one of the ways that we can enjoy the longevity that many of us will live. And when we are healthier, we reduce our healthcare costs, which can be pretty astronomical throughout our lives and retirement. Number two is nutrition. Eat right, and evaluate your eating habits. Are you consuming a balanced diet?

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Rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, make small, sustainable changes to improve your nutrition. I know it’s a tough time of year with Halloween candy, Thanksgiving, and Christmas, but if you start thinking about how to manage your nutrition during those periods now, like here in September, you’ll be better prepared. Physical activity: Incorporate regular physical activity into your routine, even if you start with walking. Walking is excellent for you. It doesn’t have to be intense. You can walk, swim, yoga. It’s perfect for staying active and keeping your body physically healthy. Mental well-being: Prioritize your mental health, practice mindfulness and meditation, or engage in hobbies that bring you joy and reduce stress. I was reading something by Tony Robbins on beautiful states versus suffering states, and he said that life is really about how we react to bad situations because they’re going to happen or stressful situations.

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And his whole thing is thinking about being in a beautiful state versus a suffering state. So, I’ve been repeating that in my mind lately. When something is creeping up on me, and I feel stress creeping up, I remind myself that I want to stay in a beautiful state and push the suffering away and out of my mind. Number five is sleep quality. Ensure you’re getting enough quality sleep. I’m working on that. I tend to be a night owl and then get up early, so I’m burning both ends of the candle, which is unsuitable for my mental and physical health. Good sleep is crucial to well-being. So, take a nap if you’re not sleeping well at night. I know I’ve been taken down, and it’s what Europeans do all the time. It’s one of the things they say is critical to longevity is taking that siesta.

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And finally, under this category, check out the new Netflix series Live Two 100, which I just started watching. Very, very interesting. It’s about the blue zones worldwide and using those blue zone habits to help us live a longer, better life. Also, check out the book by Peter Adia called Outlive. I just picked it up. It’s pretty heavy-duty. It’s a big book. But there are so many nuggets of good stuff that Peter talks about and his four pillars to outliving the people that are not going to follow these pillars, and they’re going to be short-lived. Finally, empower yourself—set goals. Define your physical and financial wellness goals for the upcoming year. Make them bright, which is specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound. Seek support. Don’t hesitate to seek guidance. I mean, we women are good at asking for directions.

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So whether it’s a financial advisor, retirement coach, personal trainer, or therapist, you don’t have to do this journey alone, okay? You can get the support you need. Celebrate progress. Acknowledge and celebrate your achievements, no matter how small. Indeed, celebrating milestones keeps you motivated. Stay connected. Maintain a robust support system of friends and loved ones. Share your goals and progress with them to stay accountable. September and October are my busy visiting and vacationing with friends and family. I’m looking forward to this time of connection and celebrating life and self-care. Prioritize self-care as a non-negotiable. Remember, investing in yourself is an investment in your future. Ladies, okay? So take care of you. This is the time for you. If you’re one of my listeners starting your second half of life, I always say this is all about me. Well, it’s not all about me; it’s much about me.

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Indeed, I have all my other responsibilities, my kids, my significant other, and my dogs, but it is essential to make sure you prioritize yourself. This checklist is a roadmap to empower you to end the year on a high note, which would be the best holiday gift we could give ourselves, and we’ll allow you to step confidently into the next year and chapter of your life. You have the strength and wisdom to make positive changes for your financial, physical, and mental well-being. So, ladies, thank you for listening to today’s episode. Here’s to being happier, healthier, and wealthier. I look forward to seeing you in my workshop. Just go to her financial checkup.com. We will get a bunch of things done, and we’ll have some fun. So here’s to knowing more, having more, and getting her done.

 

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