Seven Financial Tips for 2016 That You May Not Hear From Others

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1. File your taxes early to avoid the unpleasant surprise of being notified that you already filed. When that happens it is usually 2016-blastbecause a scammer has stolen your Social Security number, filed electronically on your behalf,and likely already is long gone with a big tax refund leaving you to handle a huge mess. Start accumulating your tax documents now. Procrastination is for the other guy. You do not want tax identity theft to happen to you.

2. Make an effort to consolidate your financial accounts by closing at least two. You are not using them and you may be paying unnecessary fees. Besides, the mental real estate required to maintain them is likely not worth the effort. Focus more on activities that are more meaningful to you.

3. Vow to increase your contributions to your employer retirement plan by a minimum of 1%. Ideally, you should be maximizing your tax-deferred contributions. At the very least, aim to contribute enough to capture all of the matching funds from your employer.Do not say no to free money.

4. Get started on your estate planning in 2016 by making that call to schedule a meeting with an estate-planning attorney. It is not pleasant to talk about your own demise but you owe it to your loved ones to make sure everything is in order in case something happens to you. Avoidance is not a solution.

5. Are you enjoying the savings at the gas pump and in your natural-gas utility bills? Vow to add these savings to your emergency fund or a savings account for a specific short-term goal before you spend it all and then wonder where that money went.

6. We all know health care is expensive. A big component of retirement expenses will be health care-related, of course. There are many studies showing us the grim reality awaiting us. It is imperative to invest in your lifestyle today by buying that gym membership and actually begin using it. If you are not as motivated, perhaps hiring a personal trainer may be what you need to do to get you back to working on your health. You hear the mantra “Health is the most important thing” for a reason…it is true!

7. Since we are on a procrastination theme (see#1 and #4), how about actually making it a priority to take that trip you have been talking about for years? We are not getting any younger so find that time to travel because who knows if you will be around or able to take that trip in the future? I am sure you can squeeze one trip in next year. Use your frequent-flier miles if you have any lying around. They only continue to get devalued as time goes by.

By George Papadopoulos
The Wall Street Journal
December 14, 2015

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