We’ve just about arrived at spring, the time when many people spruce up their homes, yards and other parts of their surroundings. This year, why not extend that practice a little further and give your financial and investment environment a good “spring cleaning”?
Here are a few suggestions for doing just that:
•Reduce duplication. If you’ve ever worked to “de-clutter” your home, you may have discovered a lot of extraneous items. Did you really need three blenders? Did you have more remote control devices than you did televisions? As you look through your investment portfolio, you might also find some duplication, perhaps in the form of multiple stocks of companies in the same industry. You might want to consider whether you’d be better off by reducing this concentration and using the proceeds to broaden your investment mix to create new potential for growth, income or a combination of both.
•Repair your “roof.” As part of your exterior spring-cleaning efforts, you might examine your roof to determine if you need to repair or replace any torn or missing shingles. After all, a strong roof is essential to protecting your home. And your financial foundation needs protection, too — so, review your life and disability insurance to ensure they are still adequate to meet your family’s needs. You also might want to consult with a financial professional for ways of dealing with the potentially devastating costs of an extended nursing home stay or another type of long-term care.
•Plant some “seeds.” Spring is a good time for re-seeding parts of your lawn that may be bare. Once you’ve planted the seeds, of course, you’ll need to water and fertilize them to encourage growth. As you look over your financial landscape, you may also find areas that are somewhat barren. For example, you might be adequately funding your own retirement goals through your employer-sponsored retirement plan and other investments, but are you putting away enough money for your children’s college education? If not, you might need to “plant some seeds” for potential growth by investing in a college savings account, such as a 529 plan. And you may need to continually “nourish” your plan by contributing money each year.
•Update your “furnishings.” When you bought and arranged your home’s furnishings, they might have been perfectly suited for your needs. But now, many years later, your situation may be quite different. Perhaps you’ve said goodbye to grown children who have struck out on their own, so you might want to make new uses for old rooms. And maybe your old “stuff” just isn’t as comfortable as it was before, or the layout of your furniture isn’t as efficient. Whatever the case, it may well be time to update your environment. And the same thing can happen with your financial “house.” To reflect changes in your family situation, employment, economic circumstances, retirement goals and other factors, you will need to periodically review your financial strategy and your investment portfolio, and make adjustments as needed.
Tidying up your living space may help improve your overall outlook on life. The same might be said of a financial spring cleaning — and you won’t even need a mop.
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