January can be a time of shedding the old and starting anew. After the celebrations, stress, revelry, and potential overindulgences during the holidays, it’s a good time to look back and consider making changes in the future.
Two common areas where people feel compelled to make changes are their finances and health. We’ve compiled some conversation starters below to have with both a financial professional and physician about your current situations and any changes to make for 2018.
However, before you head off for your annual checkups, consider making time to gather your thoughts and do your own research. That way, you’ll know the right questions to ask and will have the data on hand for your wealth and health checkups.
1. Gather financial information
Create or review your annual budget. A strong financial strategy often starts with an accurate budget as the foundation. If you don’t know where to start, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has some good resources available to help you with your planning. Once you have a budget, try checking in with your progress monthly. The purpose of a budget is to help forecast your future income and expenditures. If you’re accurate, you’ll be able to ensure you can cover expenditures, invest for retirement, pay for upcoming planned expenses, build an emergency fund, etc. So create a budget, try to stick with it and if you need to, adjust it after a few months.
In addition, you can print out and complete the 12 Planning Points to Review checklist from Transamerica. This worksheet helps you track any changes over the past year and asks questions about your current investments, goals, tax situation, retirement contributions, and other common financial planning topics. Once you’ve worked through it, you can create your own set of questions and topics for your financial professional.
Another useful tool to help prepare for your meeting is the Transamerica Retirement Calculator. You may want to spend some time with it. You can alter the variables to see how saving more or less and working more or fewer years, can potentially affect your retirement savings.
Gather information about all of your financial accounts such as current balances, investment allocations, and your 2017 annual rates of return. You may also want to pull together loan and debt information about credit cards, mortgages, car loans, and other significant debt. You’ll need balances, interest rates, and payoff schedules. Once you’ve done this research, create your list of questions using the considerations below. Then consider making an appointment to sit down and review your situation and questions.
2. Compile financial questions
a) Are my investments in the right allocation for my phase in life? I’ve used the Transamerica Retirement Calculator. What do you think of the results?
b) Are my investments balanced?
c) Based on upcoming life changes, am I setting aside enough savings?
d) What is a good debt ratio for someone of my age, career, retirement goals, etc.?
e) Are there any estate planning strategies I should consider like a trust?
f) Do I have the right mix of life, health, long term care, disability, auto, and other insurance types?
g) Are there any tax considerations I need to learn more about given my current financial situation?
3. Review your health
In addition to reviewing your financial situation, take stock of your health over the past year. Did you have any major health problems or diseases emerge or flare up again? Gather any questions you might have about those problems.
You can also informally take stock of your own risks of the following major life-shortening illnesses using these calculators and risk checklists. Keep in mind these tools are not a substitute for seeing your doctor. You can use them to help assemble any questions you might have about their results: cancer risks and prevention, heart attack calculator, and the diabetes risk test.
Maybe you already know you have a higher risk than you’d like of contracting a major illness. There may be some preventive measures you and your doctor can collaborate on during your next visit. Compile and prioritize lists of questions to go over with your doctor, and make sure to stay on task during the appointment. You may want to be sure to take advantage of the allotted time with your doctor by asking the most important questions first.
4. Prioritize health questions
a) What are your recommendations for physical exercise, smoking, and diet?
b) Am I sleeping enough? If not, what do you recommend to help me sleep more and better?
c) Is my blood pressure in a healthy range? If not, how do I get it there?
d) What is my heart attack risk? If it’s high, how do I decrease this?
e) What is my risk of diabetes? If it’s high, how do I decrease this?
f) What is my risk of stroke? If it’s high, how do I decrease this?
g) Is my weight in a healthy range? What are health risks, if it’s not?
h) Are there recommended lab work tests or health screenings for someone of my age and health condition?
i) Are my current medications still the best ones for my conditions or are there better ones now?
j) Ask any questions about “embarrassing” health issues like abnormal bowel movements, libido, odd rashes, incontinence, sexually transmitted infections, etc. Doctors have heard and seen it all and want to help you understand all of your health issues.
If your physician recommends any health screenings, be sure to schedule them in a timely manner. Some common heart-health screenings include cholesterol and fasting glucose.
5. Create 2018 goals and resolutions.
Based on your checkups and answers to your questions, create a 2018 goals and resolutions tracker. This could be as simple as a notebook where you list your goals and revisit them on a weekly or monthly basis. Or, turn to technology and use a basic Microsoft Excel spreadsheet or an app that lets you set notifications and reminders.
Financial goals might include setting a deadline to put aside a set amount in your retirement account. Some health goals could be losing weight, increasing your workout duration or mileage, training for an athletic event, and starting a meditation practice. A goal should be a bit of a stretch, measurable, and one that can be broken down into manageable pieces with set deadlines.
Remember to revisit your goals frequently to ensure that you’re on track for success. You can also adjust them if they’re not working for your current lifestyle – just be sure the goals remain true to your overall strategies. With some planning, mindfulness, and continuous realignments, you can work toward long-term financial, physical, and emotional well-being.
Things to Consider:
- Consider making appointments with your financial professional and doctor today.
- Download and complete the 12 Planning Points to Review prior to your money meeting.
- Establish a 2018 (physical fitness, emotional, or financial) goal that seems like a bit of a stretch.