2017 Year-End Investment Checklist

This checklist is geared towards people already working with an advisor, therefore items like portfolio rebalancing, taking RMD’s, and reviewing other essential planning pieces are intentionally excluded since those would be covered with your advisor during an Annual Review.

  • Freeze your credit if you haven’t yet. We have been recommending this for months now, but in case you are procrastinating, here is how to do it.
  • Check to confirm minor children DON’T have a credit report. Children should not have credit reports since they don’t have a credit history. If they do, they could be the victim of identity theft. Many states give you the option to open and immediately freeze the minor’s credit. That being said, they require you to mail in copies of social security cards and birth certificates, which I don’t want to do. As an alternative, my solution is to check annually to ensure that my children don’t have credit reports on file.
  • Use up your old gift cards. The total estimated balance on unused gift cards is around $1 billion. Now is a good time to clean out your wallet or desk to find any forgotten cards. If you don’t think you will use the cards, you can always sell them. Local grocery stores have gift card machines that will give you cash for unwanted cards. You can also sell them to companies online (cardpool.com for example).
  • Continue to make progress on going paperless. Some ideas:
    • I take pictures of the children’s artwork rather than letting it pile up. You can make a photo book or scrapbook of the pictures once a year.
    • Absolutely everything gets scanned and shredded. If it is an original document I need to keep, it goes in our fire-proof safe.
    • We have been using the OurGroceries app for years instead of writing out paper lists. Anything I need from Costco, Target or the garden store gets its own separate list. It sync’s with my husband’s app, so if he is on the way home and has to stop for milk, he can grab the other items on my list without me having to take a picture of a physical list. He can check things off rather than doing laps back and forth in the grocery store.
  • Tackle clutter and save on taxes. If you can’t close a drawer or hang a shirt up in your closet without substantial effort, donate some items before the end of the year to get a tax deduction. This only applies if you itemize and meet the IRS requirements.
  • Use up your FSA savings account. Spend it down if you have an account with a balance. Most often you will lose the money left in your account if it is not used by the end of the year.
  • Update your home inventory. This is a great way to be prepared in the event of a burglary or natural disaster (or even before moving). Try an app, like Sortly, where you can walk around your house and take pictures to make the process easier.
  • Get set up on 1Password, or another encrypted, highly rated password software. My husband and I are sharing the family password vault so we can both easily access the electric bill while having a strong, challenging password that neither of us has to remember. Having 1Password makes it easy to change all of my passwords if my computer is lost or stolen.
  • Try a new way to budget for 2018. Have you been bad about updating your personal finance app? Guess what, you are not alone. Try a simpler approach where you don’t have to manage bank downloads and worry about apps selling your data. We have a new Cash Flow Management Excel for clients that we are rolling out in 2018, but you can use any budget template and make it work for you. I set aside 30 minutes a month to document and analyze our finances. I am more mindful of the task than when it was an app on my phone. I was checking my finances as often as my email (which is too much!)
  • Find one new way to save money and reduce waste. There is new technology coming out all the time which makes this a good thing to review annually. We used to pay for a home delivery bottle water service for $50 / month. Then we found out about a new home water system that can take water from any source and make purified drinking water, filtering out viruses, hormones, heavy metals, etc. We got our money back in 5 months of the purchase and will have it for years to come.

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