Whatever your ambitions are for 2013 – maybe they include pursuing a healthier lifestyle, advancing your career or improving your finances – a plan creates a roadmap to achieve them. But plotting your course is just the beginning – it’s your actions that will deliver results.
The New Year is a good time to establish habits which, when practiced consistently, build momentum toward your goals. Actions you take on your financial plan will contribute to a strong foundation for the coming year as well as the long term. And even when many things are out of your control, you can live confidently knowing that you are doing your part to prepare for the unexpected and be ready for new opportunities along the way. Here are some steps you can take today to start the year off right:
- Review Your Big Picture
When you think about your goals and activities for 2013, evaluate what’s working for you financially and what you might want to change. The financial planning process involves not only creating a plan, but also adapting it to meet your changing needs so you can continue to meet your goals. An annual review meeting with a financial representative examines your current situation, confirms insurance and investments are in order and allows you to adjust as required. Scheduling it early in the year can help you to be ready for opportunities that may arise in the months ahead.
- Make Action Part of Your Routine
Identify some specific steps you can take on a regular basis to make progress toward your goals. Incorporate them into your routine by committing to a weekly time slot or daily activity, and build in accountability (such as a fitness buddy or career coach) to support your success. Automate your actions wherever possible – like setting up automated bill payments and payroll deductions – to minimize the effort required to make positive changes. A financial representative can suggest priorities and timing that will best help you to support your financial plan.
- Organize and Update Your Accounts
Keep your update by assembling documents and account information for any insurance policies, annuities, education funds, retirement funds and other accounts. Check that names, addresses, phone numbers and emergency contacts are accurate, and that beneficiary and joint owner information is as it should be. Contact companies as needed to update or obtain current information. If you don’t have a summary of your financial accounts and contacts, ask for Northwestern Mutual’s “Guide to Your Future,” a handy workbook where you can record this important information. Also check estate planning documents such as wills, powers of attorney and advance directives for health care, and work with your attorney to update as needed.
- Engage the Family
When thinking about your plans and actions for the New Year, consider sharing your own approach with other members of your family. It can be a teaching opportunity for children and serve as an example to help adults make progress in their own lives. The best plans include a contingency, so also be sure to inform at least one trusted family member or close friend where to find your key documents and trusted advisors in case of emergency.
- Partner with Trusted Advisers
As chief executive of your personal financial security, consider how you can best tap specialized expertise to help you make informed decisions and meet your financial objectives. If you don’t have an attorney or tax adviser, ask friends for recommendations and conduct interviews to identify someone who can guide you in these key areas. A financial representative can help you select prudent insurance and investment options to fulfill your plan, and introduce you to other Northwestern Mutual resources in personal estate and trust services as well as employee benefits, group insurance and planning services for small businesses.
When you set your sights on a prosperous New Year, remember that the goals you set and the plans you make are only as good as the action that follows. Resolve to take action this year to make your hopes and dreams a reality. A financial representative can help you develop the best plan and appropriate actions to get on the path to financial security.