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Janice France-Pettit: Financial planning for the new year

Union Bank

Posted: January 21, 2011 10:32 p.m.
Updated: January 22, 2011 4:55 a.m.
 

With each new year, people often reflect on the choices they make in their lives and resolve to make smarter ones. Be sure to include a financial plan in your list of resolutions.

Developing a financial plan helps to put your financial situation into perspective while providing a strategy to help you achieve your short-term and long-term goals. And creating one may be easier than you think. 

Define your goals
Spend some time reflecting on what it is that you want to achieve in the coming year and beyond. Maybe you would like to save for a new home, perhaps your goal is to pay down debt or take a long awaited vacation. 

If you haven’t already started thinking about retirement savings, it would be wise to factor this into your goal planning.

Evaluate your situation
Start by determining your net worth by listing everything you own, including savings and checking accounts, investments, equity in your home and assets of financial value. Then list what you owe including items like your mortgage, credit-card balances, etc. The difference will be your net worth.

Also, determine your debt to income ratio by developing a list of all your income and expenses for each month.
Hopefully, your income exceeds your monthly expenses.

If your expenses are greater than your income, then you’ll need to find ways to increase your income, cut your expenses or both.

Create a financial plan
Develop a budget that includes a savings plan, and consider ways to put your savings to work to help you reach your goals. Do some research on investment opportunities that fit your risk tolerance and begin investing on a regular basis. 

It may be wise to make an appointment with your banker, a reputable financial planner or broker who can offer some guidance on how to invest and save money.

You may also obtain information about investments, savings and other financial information online or through books.
Many community colleges and adult-education programs also offer financial planning courses you may consider.

Evaluate your progress
Review your financial goals, and plan at least quarterly to make sure you are staying on course.

Make adjustments in your budget as necessary if your financial situation changes. 

Janice France-Pettit is a senior vice president and regional manager for Union Bank, overseeing the Simi Valley, Santa Clarita Valley, San Fernando Valley and Antelope Valley region.

Visit www.unionbank.com for more information.

The foregoing article is intended to provide general information about corporate gift giving and is not considered financial or tax advice from Union Bank. Please consult your financial or tax adviser or the IRS.
France-Pettit’s column represents her own views, and not necessarily those of The Signal.

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