Developing a Personal Financial Plan for 2015

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As 2015 approaches, now is the ideal time to evaluate your current finances and reexamine your financial goals. If you haven’t already done so, now is the time to schedule an appointment to sit down with your accountant before the end of the year to discuss your personal financial planning strategies for 2015 and the years to come.

Here are some ideas and things to start considering prior to your strategy session with your personal accountant:

  1. New Limits for 2015 Retirement Plan Contributions. The IRS has just recently posted the contribution levels for 2015’s tax-deferred savings plans. New rules increase Thrift Savings Plan, 401K, 403(b) and some 457 plans contributions to $18,000. If you are 50 or older, you can now make “catch-up” contributions of up to $6,000 annually. There are other significant changes that you can discuss with your personal accountant.
  1. Take stock of your current financial status. Have you recently gone through a major life change and your financial situation has dramatically changed? Divorce, death of a child, spouse or parent as well as the loss of a job or a promotion, all impact your finances. If you have had a “good” year or a “bad” year financially, you can still be proactive in your planning for 2015. Look at the numbers and be prepared to talk honestly with your accountant about your goals and plans for the future.
  1. Re-examine your current financial goals. If you have financial goals, when was the last time you adjusted them to your current financial state and your new vision for your future? Be proactive and start planning for the future with new savings ideals, investments or estate planning. Financial goals should be broken down into short-term, mid-term and long-term with milestones set along the way.
  1. Look towards retirement regardless of your age. It is never too early to start preparing financially for retirement. If you have specific financial retirement goals or a lifestyle you wish to enjoy, you can start planning and saving now for the future you desire. A blend of short-term and long-term investments can help you meet your goals; be sure to weigh your options and consider the best balance of low risk and high-risk investments.
  1. Evaluate debt. If you have amassed more debt this year, it is essential to come to terms on how best to pay it off, while continuing to pay yourself for your retirement. If your income has decreased, while debt has increased, it may be time to look at all of your options to ensure your financial security now and in the future.
  1. Set a 2015 savings goal. The problem with putting money into savings accounts is that it can be so easy to funnel money for immediate expenditures. That is why it is essential to create your goal of savings for the year. Remember the old adage “pay yourself first.” This is the way you should do it – not take an extra vacation that cuts into your savings investment.
  1. Taxes. Now is the perfect time to talk to your accountant about the changes in tax codes coming for the 2015 year that may affect you. It is also worth your time to discuss with your accountant about this years taxes and if it would behoove you to make any donations prior to the end of 2014.

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