A Valentine approach to your finances

Business - February 2nd, 2007
Magellan Japan

Provided by MAGELLAN
Tel. 03-3769-5511

Whether you’re celebrating your first Valentine’s Day or your fiftieth, it’s never too early or too late to get to the heart of planning for your financial future. Personal financial planning is a key ingredient to achieving your goals and plays an important role in achieving financial harmony.

Talk about money openly

Togetherness is more than an emotional partnership; it’s also a financial one. Be open and honest in sharing your thoughts about saving and spending, investing and borrowing. Wealth building is best accomplished when it’s a team effort, but since attitudes about money are acquired over a lifetime, be willing to make some allowances for each other’s money habits.

Who’s looking after the money? If you’re just starting out, decide who will handle mon­ey management tasks and monitoring investments. If you’ve been together for a while perhaps it’s time to make a switch. Regardless, frequently review your budg­et, investment portfolio, and tax situation, and discuss major purchases and important financial decisions.

Identify financial goals

Saving money is much easier when you have specific goals in mind. Take the time to talk regularly about what is important to both of you. By setting short- and long-term financial goals and reasonable time frames for each, you can establish priorities and define the type of lifestyle you want. Try to anticipate how changes in your life, such as the birth of a child or disability of a family member may affect your financial future. Take time to update your goals and assess your progress.

Reduce debt

If you find you can pay only the minimum due on your credit card bills, try trimming a couple of items in your monthly budget—like dinners out and mov­ies—and use the savings to pay down debt.

Update your insurance

Review life, disability, medical, and property insurance needs at regular intervals. Remember to check the ben­eficiaries on your retirement and pension plans and update them as necessary.

Invest for the future

It’s never too soon or too late to save for retirement. One of the best strategies is to put the maximum amount possible into your employer-sponsored retire­ment plan. Most young couples should consider in­vesting a substantial proportion of their portfolios in equities, which tend to offer higher yields than bonds or cash over the long term.

Make or revise your will

If you die without a will, the people you leave behind have to sort out the mess often against what you might have wanted. If your wills have been in place for a while, review them to determine whether they should be updated to reflect any changes in your life status, such as children.

Don’t forget tax planning

Keep taxes in mind throughout the year as you plan your overall financial strategy. Take advantage of every op­portunity—from income shifting to using a tax-deferred retirement plan, from deductions to offsetting capital gains. Remember, every amount you cut from your taxes can be put to­ward achieving your financial goals.