Your Financial Life Owner’s Manual: Ongoing Maintenance
The book that sits in the glovebox of your car has the obligatory ‘Ongoing Maintenance’ section, highlighting how often you should be changing your oil, flushing your transmission fluid and a slew of other tune-up services. However, no one probably gave you an ongoing maintenance guide to your financial life once your account balances started to go up. Knowing what you have and when you should schedule a tune-up can protect you from wandering into a few common financial slip-ups as you charge toward achieving life’s goals.
Rebalancing Investment Portfolios – 1 to 4 times a year
The value of your investment portfolio, and its’ underlying holdings, changes for better or worse every market day. We don’t advocate obsessing over the daily changes however your overall asset allocation can change in meaningful ways, particularly during volatile times. As winners and losers emerge over time, the risk you are taking in your portfolio may inadvertently change without your realization. For example, in bullish stock markets like the US market has experienced since 2009, your allocation to stocks as a percentage of your overall portfolio may have substantially increased. Without regular rebalancing to keep your risk in line, you may have been left with a much bigger allocation to stocks than you intended. Many companies allow for you to select quarterly rebalancing, making it an automatic effort to ensure “risk creep” doesn’t happen.
Permanent Life Insurance In-force Illustrations – Every 2-4 years
When’s the last time you had the life insurance policy you bought in 1989 looked at? Depending on the type, you may find that the market conditions (e.g., higher interest rates) which that policy was written under do not reflect today’s market. The cash value designed to sustain itself throughout your life in 1989, may now only get you to age 73. It’s important to understand what you have and whether your premiums are on track to achieve the goals you set at policy purchase. Along those same lines – maybe your goals changed and the insurance premium you dish out every year is no longer the optimal use of that money?
Financial Plan Refresh – Annually
Life happens and circumstances, goals and people change. It’s important to dedicate the mental energy to reinforce the goals you’ve laid out in the plan developed with your finance professional. Financial Plans are not “set and forget” arrangements. Your financial professional needs good information from you to help you succeed.
Legal Documents and Estate Planning – Annually
It’s important to stay in touch with your legal documents and estate planning (e.g., wills, trusts, power of attorney), at least annually, to confirm that your intentions remain the same and your relationship with the people you’ve elected to play a role in those documents are unchanged. It’s also important to regularly check the beneficiary designations on all your financial accounts. Account beneficiaries supersede a will, so you always want to remember that as you make changes to your legal documents you are also adjusting your beneficiaries at the investment company as needed.
Unlike the reminder light that flashes in your face every day when you are overdue for an oil change, overdue maintenance on your financial life may sometimes be less glaring. Working with a trusted advisor and Certified Financial Planner is a step in the right direction.