Financial Resolutions for 2014

Use the New Year to start fresh financially.
January 4, 2014 7:22:01 AM PST
Use the New Year to start fresh financially. Sharon Oberlander is the Managing Director of Wealth Management at Merrill Lynch and suggests the following five things to do now in order to create a more stable financial future.

1. Assess your 2014 financial goals.

    • Look at the year ahead and plan out your personal goals that will have an effect on your finances. Perhaps you're considering having another child, start staying home with the kids, purchase a new home or take everyone to Disney?

    • Lay out your 2014 objectives and the budget you'll need to accomplish them.

    • This is also a good time to outline how you can pay off any debt. After the holidays, many people have extra credit card expenses to consider. Whether you have loans, a mortage or other looming debt, now is a good time to map out a plan of attack to pay it off.

    • By planning appropriately you can cross each goal off your to-do list.

2. Check up on your estate plan.

    • Preparing for your own death is uncomfortable, but planning properly helps to ensure your loved ones are secure ? emotionally and financially ? even after you are gone.

    • Without making suitable arrangements in advance, your estate may potentially end up in the wrong hands, or may decrease in value significantly; issues that can be avoided.

    • Speak to your financial professional to strategize your estate plan and have all your documents in one place.

    • If you currently have an estate plan, review it regularly to make sure it is in line with current laws and regulations, while still expressing your goals.

3. Set up a trust.

    • Trusts are designed to help you protect your wealth today and maximize your legacy for your children.

    • They are best for individuals and families that will be making consistent contributions to a fund that is expected to accumulate into a substantial amount.

    • Each trust is unique and designed to address individual situations.

    • Trusts can also be incorporated into your wealth management plan to reduce taxes, increase control over the distribution of your assets and assist loved ones while an estate is in probate.

  • 4. Evaluate your insurance plans.

      • Make sure your family has adequate medical, disability and life insurance.

      • Confirm your medical insurance provides coverage for your whole family and if it does not, consider switching to one that does. If you and your spouse are both eligible for coverage through your employers, carefully compare plans.

      • Make sure your current disability insurance will replace at least 75 percent of your income; otherwise, you'll need to purchase additional coverage either through your employer or on your own.

      • Appropriate life insurance depends on your age, income and number of children. Choosing the right insurance policy is a personal decision and should be made after extensive research.

      • Always keep an emergency fund set aside just in case.

    5. Invest and save for college.

      • Providing for a college education may be the single biggest expense you have in raising your child.

      • It is never too early to establish a college fund for your child.

      • Be consistent by regularly setting some funds away in advance or investing funds on your children's behalf.

      • There are a number of investment platforms for college.