A simple financial planning checklist for 2023 might just be what you need.
Many people start the year with health and fitness goals. It’s less popular to think about your financial wellness than it is to focus on your body, but the truth is that financial well-being takes as much attention and energy as physical fitness.
If the new year snuck up on you and slipped by without you setting any new goals or checking in on your progress, that’s okay! There’s still plenty of time this early in the year to take a look at your plans and personal finances, gauge your financial fitness, and make helpful changes.
If financial security is your ultimate goal, breaking the goal down into smaller assessments and tasks is the steady way to make sure you stay on track year after year. You need to work toward specific objectives and evaluate them. This means assessing spending, saving, investing, and other key elements of your overall financial planning picture.
Working with a financial advisor is often the best way to ensure you stay focused and make the right choices. An advisor can educate you and ensure that your plans are sound. But it’s possible to keep on top of your own progress and make adjustments as you go. If you want to go it alone, use our simple financial planning checklist for 2023, and stay abreast of your financial situation for a secure future.
Why Have an Annual Planning Checklist?
An annual planning checklist is a great way to assess your financial goals every year. Our simple financial planning checklist for 2023 lets you monitor for changes, challenges, and opportunities. You may already have in place a comprehensive financial plan for your life, but we recommend checking in every year to see how your situation may have changed.
This simple financial planning checklist for 2023 does account for your long-term financial goals, and chart your progress, but also can help you note any adjustments needed due to changes in life circumstances or the financial world.
Use each section below to track your progress. And let us know if you have any questions!:
1.) Conduct A Personal Finance Inventory
An annual personal inventory lets you see your financial status in the moment as well as compare it to your inventory from previous years. (If this is your first year doing this, it will give you a baseline for future inventories.)
Having an inventory from a previous year makes it easy to conduct this year’s assessment. You can just update the same categories, and then compare.
To create a personal finance inventory, list the following:
- ASSETS. List out each of your assets and the dollar amount of their worth. This includes income, savings and checking, retirement accounts, equity in your home, any other real estate, and any other investment vehicles.
- LIABILITIES. This is the debt list. Here include any credit card debt and student loans as well as mortgage, auto, and any other balances.
- CREDIT SCORE. Obtain your credit report! Many credit cards as well as online financial websites let you check in regularly on your credit rating at no charge. Some services you can use to check your score include Experian, Credit Karma, NerdWallet, and Equifax.
- CREDIT UTILIZATION. To figure out your utilization rate, divide your total debt balances by your total credit limit. Then, multiply by 100 to get the percentage. Ideally, your credit utilization ratio should be 30% or less. The lower it is, the better your credit score.
- EXPENSES. It can also be helpful to list out all major regular monthly expenses (such as food, rent or mortgage, insurances, utilities and other bills).
Now pull out your financial plan (assuming you have one—if you don’t, this is a good time to consult with an adviser to create one). What are your goals? Did you want to fully fund your retirement accounts each year, purchase a car, set aside enough money for two nice vacations each year, make extra payments on your mortgage, have enough money set aside to fully fund your children’s college, or be on track to retire at age 60?
How is your progress toward those goals? For example, are you saving as much as you projected? Paying off debt at the pace you planned? Have your assets appreciated? Note your progress next to each item on the list. how can you adjust?
2.) Evaluate Major Life Changes
Another key to this step is looking back and looking forward. You want to note any significant life changes in the previous year, as well as any that may be coming up. Moving, purchasing a home, starting a business, changing jobs, getting married, having a baby, or receiving an inheritance are just a few of the big changes that can affect your financial picture.
Planning for your kids’ college education is a more obvious financial concern for many families, but one that tends to be less anticipated is caring for elderly parents. If one or both of your parents should need assistance, do you have the resources to manage this? Long-term care insurance might be a topic to raise with mom or dad before it becomes an issue.
3.) Check in on Retirement Planning
As you continue into your retirement planning and saving, it’s also important to consider tax planning related to retirement.
- Depending on your marginal tax rate, is a traditional or Roth retirement account appropriate for you?
- Is now a good time to convert your traditional IRA to a Roth IRA?
- If you have leftover 401(k) funds from a past employer, should you roll those funds over into your current 401(k) or a corresponding IRA?
- Have you maximized your contributions for the year and adjusted your contributions accordingly?
If these choices and questions seem overwhelming or need more explanation, you can talk to us or download our ebook: The Insider’s Guide to Reducing Taxes in Retirement.
4.) Assess Investment Portfolio Performance
Furthermore, your retirement accounts are not the only investments that need a checkup. If you have an investment portfolio, evaluate how it’s performing. Asset allocation and diversification should be reviewed at least once a year, if not more.
If you do reallocate or rebalance assets, make sure you’re aware of how buying and selling will affect your taxes. Tax strategies like tax-loss harvesting can help reduce the tax burden. For more on that strategies, see our ebook: The Insider’s Guide to Reducing Taxes in Retirement
5.) Conduct Tax Planning
Make sure you have everything you need in order to file your taxes for the previous year. Be sure to file for an extension if you’re not ready for April 15. Talk to your tax professional and find out if you might be eligible for any new benefits or tax breaks. It’s important to make sure whether you’ll owe capital gains tax or be subject to other tax liabilities.
If you’re expecting an income tax refund, this is a good time to consider how you might use it to improve your financial picture—whether it’s to pay down your mortgage, boost your emergency fund, purchase something you need, or increase investments.
6.) Is Your Insurance Coverage Adequate?
Additionally, insurance coverage is actually part of your financial picture as well! Your homeowners or renter’s and auto coverages need to be evaluated annually to make sure that the coverages are sufficient to pay for any insured damage in the event you need it. You can make sure you’re receiving the most cost-effective premiums by conducting a shopping comparison. Sometimes switching can get you the same coverage at a reduced rate, especially if you opt for more than one type of insurance from the same company. See if you’re eligible for any discounts.
Also, make sure your health insurance is in place and adequate in the event of illness or injury. If your family depends on your income, you may want to consider life insurance and/or disability insurance as part of your financial plan.
7.) Update Your Estate Plan, Will, and/or Trust
Not everyone has an estate plan, but we think it’s an important part of every financial plan. If you don’t have a will or a trust, plan to complete these as soon as possible. We work closely with several qualified tax attorneys we trust; if you’d like an introduction, just reach out to us.
If you do already have an estate plan, now is the time to make sure it’s up to date and reflects your most current intentions. An expert can you help you plan how to transition your estate in the event of your passing. Sometimes, transferring some of your assets to children or other heirs before your passing can be a beneficial tax strategy. Consult an estate attorney to make sure your bases are covered.
Make This Checklist An Annual Tradition
Above all, this kind of annual financial plan review is the best way to ensure that you meet your goals. Even if you have a financial advisor or planner, measuring and tracking your own progress is empowering and can be inspiring.
Need Help Making a Financial Plan?
Enjoy our simple financial planning checklist for 2023? Uncertain about how to develop financial strategies and choose investments? Not sure how to meet your financial goals? Consider speaking with a qualified financial advisor. A financial plan can be made on your own, but research1 shows that people have more success achieving their financial goals when working with a financial advisor or planner toward long-term goals like retirement.
We can help. If you’d like to speak to us, reach out by scheduling a free consultation (https://www.calamitawealth.com/contact/) where we can learn more about you, and see if we can help. At Calamita Wealth Management, we are fee-only, fiduciary, and independent financial planners. That means we’re never paid commissions of any kind, and we have a legal obligation to provide unbiased and trustworthy financial advice that puts your best interests first. Our mission is to ensure your successful retirement by providing you with effective financial planning that is based solely upon what you want your life to be.
1Blanchett, David M. “Financially Sound Households Use Financial Planners, Not Transactional Advisers.” Journal of Financial Planning 32 (4): 30–40, 2019