A Roadmap for Success in the New Year

A Roadmap for Success in the New Year

The start of the year is not just a chance for personal growth and resolutions; it’s also a crucial period to assess, plan, and strategize for our financial well-being. Whether you’re aiming to build wealth, secure a comfortable retirement, or leave a lasting legacy, a thoughtful and strategic approach to managing your financial life can make all the difference. We’ve assembled a holistic roadmap, with examples of actions worth considering, to focus your efforts in building a stronger financial foundation in 2024.

Goals & Objectives

Your goals and timeline should be at the core of every financial decision you make.

Actions to Consider
  • List your goals based on urgency and importance. Your short-term goals may closely resemble a to-do list, while your long-term goals may feel more aspirational. Try to accomplish at least 1-2 higher priority goals this year.
  • If you have existing goals, revisit the list. Congratulate yourself on goals accomplished and rewrite any goals that no longer match your aspirations.

Understand

Comprehend your current financial situation by building your Personal Net Worth (a list of your assets and liabilities) and your Personal Cash Flow (how much money goes in and out of your household each year).

Actions to Consider
  • Review your Personal Net Worth of assets and liabilities. Compare your Net Worth to the previous year to understand changes and trends in your financial life.
  • Review your Personal Cash Flow to see how much money you have coming in and going out each month (a recent credit card statement may help). Once you’ve established a single month, expand your cash flow to cover an entire year, peppering in one-time expenses, such as home repairs, and one time income, such as bonuses or gifts.

Investment Planning

At ShankerValleau, our investment philosophy is simple: your personal goals and life circumstances should dictate how you are invested, not today’s newsreel.

Actions to Consider
  • If your personal goals or financial circumstances have recently changed, it is important to review your investment goals and align them with your portfolio allocation.
  • In today’s higher interest rate environment, proper cash management can help you earn more interest on your cash savings. At ShankerValleau, we have a high interest savings solution for excess cash to help our existing wealth advisory clients take advantage of the current interest rate environment.

Tax Planning

While “tax season” may imply that there is an optimal time to think about your taxes, tax-wise financial planning is year-round activity towards reducing your lifetime taxes.

Actions to Consider
  • If you are in a high tax bracket, are you maximizing your pre-tax retirement contributions? This saves tax now and allows your contributions to grow, tax-free, until drawn in retirement.
  • Have you considered making Roth IRA contributions if your income does not exceed the threshold? There are tax advantages obtained by investing after-tax funds now in a Roth IRA for your future.
  • For education expenses, think about opening a 529 plan to potentially receive a state tax deduction and the benefits of tax-free growth. If you live in Illinois in 2024, you can deduct up to $10,000 ($20,000 for a married couple filing jointly) in 529 education contributions from your Illinois taxable income.
  • If you are approaching retirement, or currently in early retirement, make the most of your “low-income years”. These years are the time to take advantage of your potentially lower tax rates, before increased retirement income pushes you into higher tax brackets.

Risk Management

Insurance is a critical component of a healthy financial life. Having the proper insurance coverages in place may assist an individual in avoiding catastrophic financial losses.

Actions to Consider
  • Contact an independent agent to review your home, auto and personal liability insurance to ensure your coverage is appropriate and premiums are reasonable. Could you increase your deductible to a manageable level and consequently lower your premiums?
  • Have you communicated recent home improvements or renovations to your insurance agent?
  • Review your existing life insurance coverage. Consider any recent life changes such as the addition of a new child to your family or a child reaching adulthood.

Retirement Planning

Years of sound decisions build a wonderful financial life and increase the opportunity for an enjoyable retirement.

Actions to Consider
  • Have you adjusted your retirement plan contributions to reflect the increased contribution limits for 2024?
  • Are you maximizing your employer match retirement contributions?
  • If you do not have employer retirement plan options, have you considered contributing monthly or annually to a Traditional or Roth IRA?

Estate Planning

An estate plan is one of the greatest gifts you can bequeath to your loved ones, to reduce their painful stress load during an already stressful time.

Actions to Consider
  • Establish or update your estate planning documents including will, trust (if appropriate), health care power of attorney, and financial power of attorney. More about these documents can be found here.
  • If you have children under age 18, make sure your estate plan addresses custody of the children, if you were no longer here.
  • Ensure beneficiaries are designated for your retirement accounts, pensions and life insurance policies.

Charitable Giving

Many Americans want to give generously to the charities and causes they care about. A tax break may help you give more than you otherwise could.

Actions to Consider
  • It may be appropriate to make Qualified Charitable Distributions from your IRA to save tax and maximize your giving.
  • Consider a Donor-Advised Fund as a potential tool for giving meaningfully and tax-efficiently under the current tax law.

Conclusion

ShankerValleau is here to help you achieve your goals and take action on your ‘to-do’ list for the new year. Together, let’s make 2024 a great year for your financial life!