You do all these things (or at least you should) in the name of prudent maintenance. When’s the last time you performed a checkup on your financial life? If it’s been a while, these tips will help you evaluate your financial standing.
The New Year is a good time to look at the effectiveness of your retirement funds. The considerations should include not only what kind of return you’re getting and how much you have, but also your level of risk tolerance and your age.
If you’re looking for guidance on how much to save based on age, check out Zing’s “3 Questions to Ask When You Review Your Retirement Plan.”
You should also take a look at your savings, CDs and stock portfolio to make sure you’re getting good rates of return based on the level of aggression or safety you chose to take with your investments.
Shopping around for rates can often get you the best deal. Now may be a good time for you to reevaluate your options to make sure your insurance is working for you. If you find that you’re not getting the very best rates, and if you’ve been a customer with a particular insurance company for any length of time, you could try asking for a discount. They’ll want to keep you.
The first thing to take a look at is health insurance. If you have a chronic condition that will cost a lot in terms of medicine, surgeries or equipment, you may want to go with a health maintenance organization (HMO) or preferred provider organization (PPO) plan. You’ll pay a higher premium for these, but the deductible is smaller.
If, on the other hand, you’re lucky enough to be young and relatively healthy, a health savings account (HSA) plan may be right for you. The premiums for HSA plans are usually low, but the deductible is larger than you would have with an HMO or PPO plan. With an HSA, you contribute tax-free money to a savings account, and you can spend that money on health care expenses.
If you know you might soon need new glasses or dental work, you can get policies to cover these types of expenses in addition to your normal health insurance. You can even take advantage of the policy to help pay for a backup pair of glasses if your prescription doesn’t change.
We’re all going to die someday (unless this Futurama technology makes its way to the real world). You can choose to look at life insurance as an acknowledgment of your inevitable mortality. Alternatively, it might be your assurance that something lives on after your death. Think about what you wouldn’t want your family to have to worry about if you died. It’s a good idea to carry a policy big enough to pay off your mortgage. If you have young children, you might want to have enough insurance to help with college costs or a wedding. You can always add or subtract to your plan later in life.
While you take stock of where you are at this point in your life, consider whether you’re getting the most value out of your home. Interest rates are still very low, and it may be the right time for you to refinance and get yourself a lower payment, shorter term or both.
If your mortgage is paid off, or if you’re comfortable with the rate you’re getting, you might consider a purchasing a vacation home or investment property. A vacation home might be attractive for those who are about to retire and like spending long periods of time on a particular lake or beach.
You can also consider real estate investment by becoming a landlord. While you’re responsible for maintaining the home, most of the time nothing will need fixing and you should get a good return on your investment. You just need to be aware that you’re in charge of any upkeep necessary.
Do you have any tips for other readers on performing a financial checkup? Share them in the comments section.
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