Courtney’s January Challenge Update:
So it begins. My journey towards creating a personal powerful financial plan using Julie’s 12 Steps! Getting a better understanding of our financial situation, taxes and planning have always been on the to do list for my husband and I. We found just about every reason NOT to talk about money, bills and saving. We have been married for 6 years and this past year we had our first child. It has taken the birth of our son to finally sit down and take control, understand and plan.
Julie’s Tips came at a perfect time for us and we have been anxious to dive into our homework. It’s January and month one is all about our assets. Sadly – since our finances have not been top of mind we have not put an emphasis on our assets or even what we can do to gain more assets.
To be honest I had to start off by ‘Googling’ “personal assets” to make sure I knew what I was doing. Julie said an asset is something that we own that has value or increases in value.
YIKES! I was right, we do not have a lot of assets, but we have tons of debt – especially student loans. Maybe we should have done this a few years ago…. better late then never, right?.
Anyway as a young family we were able to list a few assets and have a list of a few more things we can track along the way.
- Photography & Darkroom Equipment
- High End Sports Equipment
- Technology – Flat Screen TV, Mac Computer, iPads, Laptops…
- Small Savings Account
- Stock from an old job
- 3 months until we have the title to my husbands car
- 24 years until we pay off our mortgage (OUCH)
- a 401-k plan at work in which my husband can participate
Side Bar: Now that I am doing this exercise and taking an inventory of what we have in our home, I should probably reach out to my home insurance company to review my policy to make sure we are adequately covered, renewal is up in February. So far this has been a great opportunity to talk numbers without having to cover everything in one sitting. We are going task by task and month by month.
When doing this step – take the time to call the insurance company — you are already on topic why not tackle two things at once! We found out in our policy we were under insured by tens of thousands of dollars. Also, with a new child this is a good time to look at our beneficiaries and make sure if something happened to us our assets would transferred properly.
Kathy & Mike’s January Challenge Update:
Money is coming in as fast as it is going out – trying to plan and manage cashflow.
“Time flies – we have no idea if we are on track and prepared for our own retirement which is quickly approaching and we have 2 children soon to be in college!”
We need to sit down and find out what we have or maybe better said, what we don’t have. When we started to list our assets, it was interesting how some accounts had grown and others had not. Maybe if we were watching more closely, we could have achieved better results. Also, we had forgotten about some old retirements plans from places we worked years ago. I had an old 401-k from a company that had been sold to another company and Mike had a small pension that we had lost track of. We work so hard to bring it in but if we can’t touch it it is easy to forget about it. What a waste!
It was fun checking, upon Julie’s suggestion, the unclaimed property website. It was like we were on a treasure hunt. We actually found an old bank account from a christmas club we once contributed to.
It was also sobering to realize that Mike had never named our children as a contingent beneficiaries on his IRA plan document. If something happened to both of us it would be a tax problem for the kids. Gathering and organizing is giving us a sense of control. Maybe if we start looking at these things one by one we can get things cleaned up, in suitable investments and we can also make sure things will transfer to our estate the right way.
In addition, if we shift things around some investments are more tax efficient. We are looking forward to reducing our taxes and getting better overall results based on our objectives that are becoming more clear.
Take control of what you own and review your beneficiaries. It is a good idea to gather information about old plans because the longer you are not associated with an employer, the more difficult it becomes to gather information about your funds.