How To Do a Mid-year Financial Check-up and Why You Should
Article written by Scott M. Kahan in Stroll Chappaqua - May 2023 Magazine
By now, you’ve filed your tax returns. If you’re like most of my clients, you’re feeling relieved. And you might be tempted to close the drawer on your finances.
Don’t put them aside just yet. With taxes behind us, now is a great time to conduct a mid-year financial checkup. It’s not too late to make changes for 2023 that will keep you on track toward your goals. Here’s how.
LOOK AT YOUR BUDGET AND CASH FLOW:
Review your budget or set up a budget if you don’t have one. You know what you have spent so far this year. Use that track record to project your cash flow for the rest of 2023.
Start by looking at your taxes: did you get a big refund, or do you owe? Either way, adjust your withholding— down, to free up money in your paycheck, or up, to avoid underpayment penalties. A big refund sounds appealing, but it’s just an interest-free government loan. You want your money working for you during the year. Put that extra cash towards your 401(k) or college funding. Both should be budget priorities.
MAXIMIZE YOUR RETIREMENT SAVINGS:
Ensure you fully fund your 401(k) and 403(b) plans. 401(k) contribution limits for 2023 increased from last year to $22,500 for individuals or $30,000 if you’re 50 or older. If you’re funding at the same percentages, you might be underfunding. Adjust your plan to maximize your contributions.
Always maximize your benefits if you can afford to. If you can’t, look at your cash flow: where are you spending money now? Where can you make adjustments—perhaps to your tax withholding? Use that money to increase your contributions and support your retirement goals. Secure your future.
FUND YOUR 529 PLAN:
You might think you can’t afford to invest in college funding if your budget is tight or you’re already facing tuition bills. But a 529 plan is a tax-savings vehicle, too. The money you invest in the New York state plan is deductible from your New York state tax return—up to $5,000 annually if you’re single and $10,000 if you’re married. Put your money in, get the tax break, and take it out when you need to pay for tuition. Keep funding the plan even if your child is in college.
REVIEW YOUR ASSET ALLOCATION:
Now is a good time to rebalance your portfolio. The markets have been volatile. Whatever allocation percentages you’ve set for different asset classes (stocks, bonds), if they’ve deviated, bring them back to where they should be. If you want 60% in stocks and now you have 50%, buy more; if you have 65%, sell. This is the key to successful investing: set an allocation, stick to it, and reallocate when the percentages change. You’ll take the emotion out of investing and avoid selling at the worst times.
Some of this might sound simple, but it can be confusing— and it’s all interconnected. A qualified Certified Financial Planner™ professional will guide you through these decisions, helping you prioritize what’s needed to support your goals for 2023 and beyond.