New Year’s Thoughts… Relief or Anticipation?

Welcome 2015!  In China it’s the year of the Sheep!

A new year brings anticipation to some and relief to others.  What group do you belong to?  Where do you fall when it comes meeting the financial goals you have for yourself?

Relief is a word I hear used to describe the period at the beginning of January.  It is seen as a time to recover from the Holidays.  No matter your faith, if you celebrate any holiday – secular or not – from late November through December you can be exhausted from an over full schedule.  The first part of January is used to regroup, pay bills for all those gifts you purchased, detox from all the partying you did and to spend more quiet time at home in the evenings.  January can be a very dark month with the sun rising later and going down earlier.  It is colder most everywhere this month.  Here in the South, we like the snow!  Even a little bit seems to shut most everything down thus providing an additional respite for us.  The advent of technology does provide us the ability to work from home.  Many employees report that they get more work done when allowed to work from home, even without the snow as an excuse!

Anticipation is quite an opposite feeling.  Don’t you agree?  The New Year can be seen as an opportunity to start over, to reinvent, to make changes, to wipe the slate clean.  These phrases are commonly heard.  In business, many budgets were finalized in the fourth quarter so strategies for increasing revenue, sales or whatever metric can be started fast, right out of the gate, in early January.  Diets are often started, gym memberships increase, and we articulate our New Year’s goals to our friends.  Anticipation brings a good feeling about looking toward the future for positive outcomes.

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January is a good time to review your financial picture.  Do you have a budget?  Do you know where you spent all your money last year?  We offer clients a terrific aggregation tool with a personal website where they can link-up all their financial accounts including the ones we manage.  The financial engine will automatically create a budget for them based on their spending.  Yes, clients can and do hide the credit card, checking and other debit files from us, but they do show up in the client profile.  When a comprehensive financial plan, retirement plan, or educational plan is completed this site allows the plan to stay current.  This is so important!  In the old days, a financial plan was essentially outdated when delivered as the data was static.  Now the financial plan is literally updated every 24 hours, as account data is downloaded.  Calculations, what if scenarios and projections are updated and available to view what changes have been made due to savings or spending.

January is an excellent time to review your 401(K) allocations at work.  While you don’t expect to equal the various indices, you need to be sure your investments reflect your personal risk profile.  One way to determine risk is to ask yourself how much money you are willing to lose in a down market? We all want to make money, but knowing your downside comfort level can be more revealing.  Investment allocations should also reflect opportunities in the various markets available to you for investment.  This is also something we can help with.

Use the New Year to establish or update your Financial Plan.  Being on top of your money is a very smart Financial Strategy for Life!!  Anticipate success!

About Sara Seasholtz

Sara Seasholtz, CFP®, was voted one of “50 Most Influential Women in Charlotte” by The Mecklenburg Times in 2011, and she’s been a trusted financial advisor to her clients for over 30 years. Have a financial question?ASK SARA!

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