As we head towards 2019 year-end, what are the most important financial planning tips and tasks for you to consider to ‘finish well’ and set yourself up for a successful new year? In this series, we’ll tackle areas such as:
- Cutting taxes
- Cutting insurance costs
- Completing an estate plan review
- Grab the match. The single most important thing you can do to boost your investments is to make sure you are fully catching one hundred percent of your employer’s matching retirement plan contribution. Most employers offer a 401k-style retirement plan and will match your contributions…often fifty percent on the first six percent of money you contribute. Understand, that’s the equivalent of a guaranteed 50% return on your investment in the first year.
TO DO: If you are not on schedule to fully capture the matching contribution for this year, contact your HR department and request they increase your payroll deduction.
- Invest in an IRA. If your employer doesn’t offer a retirement plan or they don’t offer a matching contribution, you should consider starting your own retirement investment program.
TO DO: Start now investing in an IRA using an auto-investing program through a discount broker such as Schwab.com. Remember, you have until April 15, 2020, to make contributions and still receive an income tax deduction for 2019. To be on track for retirement, be sure you’re investing a minimum of 10% of your gross income annually…more if you are in your 40’s or older.
- Revisit your investment allocation. The broad stock market is up over 20% so far this year, which means your stock-to-bond ratio should be out-of-whack towards too much in stocks.
TO DO: First, make sure to have an investment process that includes a specific target allocation to stocks and bonds. For example, your target might be 60% stocks/40% bonds. At least annually, rebalance back to your target. Why? When stocks are doing well, like this year, it forces you to take some profits and rebalance (sell high). Then when we enter a period where stocks do poorly, you’ll be forced to sell bonds and use the proceeds to buy stocks (buy low).
Follow The Welch Group every Tuesday morning on WBRC Fox 6 for the Money Tuesday segment.
FOX 6 TALKING POINTS
‘4th Quarter Planning (series): INVESTING.’
- Grab the Match!
- Invest in an IRA
- Reallocate your investments
Stewart H. Welch, III, CFP, AEP, is the founder of THE WELCH GROUP, LLC, which specializes in providing fee-only investment management and financial advice to families throughout the United States. He is the author or co-author of six books, including J.K. Lasser’s New Rules for Estate, Retirement and Tax Planning- 6th Edition (John Wiley & Sons, Inc.); THINK Like a Self-Made Millionaire; and 100 Tips for Creating a Champagne Retirement on a Shoestring Budget. More information about The Welch Group and important Disclosures can be found on our website. Investing in securities involves the risk of loss. Different types of investments involve varying degrees of risk, and there can be no assurance that the future performance of any specific investment or investment strategy will be profitable or equal any historical performance level(s). Consult your financial advisor before acting on comments in this article.