Chantay Bridges (Photo by Kevin Foley)
In January, you probably vowed to put your finances on the top of your get-it-together-now list. But somehow 2011 is nearly history and it’s still on the list.
You can still make good on that promise by doing a year-end review.
For the last few years Chantay Bridges has practiced the annual ritual of year-end planning. This time though, “The economy made this a necessity.”
In August, she sat not only with her pastor for spiritual advice, but with a financial planner. What topped the agenda? “Retirement. I have been concerned with the stock market and pensions being on a financial roller coaster. You have to make preparations ahead of time instead of hoping everything will fall together later on,” says Bridges, 35, a senior real estate specialist in Los Angeles.
Her meeting was fruitful. “I got a reminder of why it’s important to have your money working for you, a lesson on mutual funds, a report on the current gold and silver prices, and how to set up a financial plan that fits within our current and future lifestyle goals,” says Bridges, who is married and has a grown stepson. In addition to retirement planning, she reviewed her credit report, insurance policies, as well as her will.
At a time when it’s about the parties and festivities, it can be hard to focus on all things financial. But year-end financial planning should be just as much a tradition as mistletoe. To make the task seem less daunting, don’t even think about going it alone. Pull together a team of professionals to help you: a financial planner, tax adviser, insurance agent, and estate-planning attorney. Getting expert advice is less costly than you might think, and whatever you spend you’ll recoup in savings. Remember the three C’s: credentials, character, and chemistry. Here’s what you need to build a dream team that can help you ring in financial success next year and beyond.
Why You Need a Financial Planner
A financial planner can provide a comprehensive look at the past year and plot a path for the next one, not only for investments, but debt, taxes, life changes, and more. Look for someone with credentials, specifically the certified financial planner (CFP) designation, awarded by the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards Inc. to those who meet education, examination, experience, and ethics requirements.
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