Consider today’s article my “Christmas Gift” to all of my readers. Today I’m sharing a special checklist document I’ve created specifically for you, based on the process I actually use at the end of every year to update my family’s financial picture. I’ve also added links into each of the various tasks on the checklist, which will take you to templates and articles related to each specific task. Hey, it’s better than a lump of coal…..
Before sharing the link with you to the custom checklist (if you just can’t wait, feel free to scroll to the bottom of this article), here’s a summary of the steps I suggest:
My Year End Financial Checklist
1) Update Net Worth Statement
The first, and potentially most important, step in your year-end checklist is to update your Net Worth Statement (click the link to access The Retirement Manifesto’s Net Worth template). The Net Worth statement is a summary of all of your assets and liabilities, and is easiest to update at the end of each year when your various statements arrive in the mail. (By the way, I also have a step to insure you capture all of your year end statements on the attached checklist, omitting here to condense the list for the article).
Step to take today: Download the Net Worth Statement, modify it for your situation, then simply input the numbers as each statement arrives early in the New Year. It’s never easier than now.
2) Capture Your Asset Allocation
The asset allocation is simply a breakdown of all of your assets by type (e.g., stocks vs. bonds vs. CD’s). The easiest method I’ve found to capture your asset allocation is to set up a free account in Personal Capital, then click on the Asset Allocation tab early in the New Year. Personally, I take a screen shot of the result and save it to my computer hard drive, then enter the data into a spreadsheet to track changes in allocation from year to year.
Step to take today: Log on to Personal Capital and set up an account. Link your investments prior to year-end, so you’re ready to capture your actual asset allocation early in the New Year.
3) Review Estate Documents
Take a few minutes at the end of the year to refresh your memory on key estate planning documents. Insure all existing documents you have are up-to-date and reflect any major changes that have occurred over the past year. Make sure you (and your spouse!) know where all documents are located. If you haven’t already, consider making a copy of relevant documents and sending to a family member “just in case”.
Steps to take today: Review this list of Estate Planning Documents, which summarizes “must have” estate documents, add any you’re currently missing.
4) Prepare a “Spending Tracker” For The New Year
For those of you who have tried and failed to keep a budget, take a new approach next year. For 1 month, track every penny you spend on the attached “SPENDING TRACKER” spreadsheet, which I created for you based on a spreadsheet my family uses. After you’ve tracked everything for one month, decide if you’d benefit from using the actual data to create a budget for the following month. If nothing else, tracking your spending for one month will be a good way to do a spot check on ongoing expenses which may no longer be required (e.g., phone land line, movie package on your cable bill, etc.)
Steps to take today: Download the “SPENDING TRACKER” and customize it to reflect your spending categories. Starting on the first of next month, keep a log of expenses by day.
5) Extra steps for those in, or near, retirement
On the attached checklist, I’ve included a few extra steps for those in, or near, retirement. These include updating your: 1) Retirement Spending Plan, 2) Retirement Income Plan, 3) Retirement Cash Flow projection and 4) Refilling Your Buckets. See the checklist for details!
AND NOW – YOUR FREE GIFT!
Sorry, I went a bit overboard with the whole “Christmas Theme”….
Below is a picture of Page 1 from the checklist, which I’ve created specifically for The Retirement Manifesto readers. Click on the picture below to launch the document, then download or print a copy to help in your year-end financial review!
CLICK ANYWHERE ON THE PICTURE TO ACCESS THE CHECKLIST:
I’d love your feedback – if you have any other steps that you use during your year-end review that I may have missed in my checklist, please leave a comment or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll add it to the document! Thanks for your loyalty this year – Best Wishes for a truly great 2016!