Summer is here! Kids are out of school and all the vacation planning is coming to fruition. It can be a good idea to take stock of your financial picture and make updates where necessary. Below are a few things to consider to keep your plan in shape. We’ve talked about them before, but it’s always worth repeating.
College Savings Plans
If you haven’t started one yet – the sooner you get saving, the better. You can fund a 529 plan with up to $16,000 in 2022 and still qualify for the annual gift tax exclusion – but you can also fund five years at once if you’re behind and want to catch up. (These limits vary state to state, from around $235,000 to $550,000 per beneficiary.) If you have a 529 plan set up, it’s a good idea to revisit your allocation as your child gets closer to college age, to make sure you’re not taking too much risk.
Life insurance is critical to keeping your family’s lifestyle and goals on track. For most people, a term life policy offers the ability to cost-effectively replace your salary during your prime earning years. A rule of thumb is the policy should be 5-10 times your annual pre-tax income, but I prefer to examine your financial picture and lifestyle today and the impact on your family with and without a policy in place.
It may also be time to review all liability policies (auto, home, umbrella) and evaluate how these can protect you and your assets should you need them. Are they are enough, or too much, if your circumstances have changed?
Volatility in the markets has increased and is likely to remain elevated. If you’re within ten years from withdrawing your money (reducing income or retiring are good examples), you may want to revisit your asset allocation and potentially dial back the risk. Younger generations may have decades before making any distributions. That time horizon provides more time to be in the market and grow money over time at a higher risk level. Talk with your financial planner about what’s right for you!
And don’t forget to contribute enough to get your employer’s match!
If you haven’t yet sorted your plan for charitable giving for 2022, the slower pace of summer can be an excellent time to think about what is meaningful to yourself and your family and where you would like to see your contributions go to make a difference. Come up with a plan now, so you aren’t up against year-end deadlines during the busy holiday season.
Setting up a donor-advised fund allows you to contribute now, but you can postpone the decision of what charities you want to give to.
If you have minor children, you need an estate plan. You’ll need to identify a guardian for your children if something should happen to you and your spouse, and you’ll most likely need a trust that specifies when and how children should be given an inheritance. Ask a friend for a referral to an estate planning attorney or see if your employer provides a legal benefit.
The Bottom Line
Thinking about your financial picture holistically and keeping all the different pieces tuned up is important to make sure you and your family are achieving your goals and staying protected. Taking the time to check in with some of the bigger items before you turn to the lazy, hazy days of summer will have you in great shape when Fall rolls around.
Kelly Luethje, CFP®, is Founder of Willow Planning Group, LLC. She provides financial education and guidance to help you live life on your terms. Kelly can usually be found on a mountain or by a lake working virtually with clients across the country across the country.
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