Time for a financial checkup!

— For most people, checkups are a regular part of life. Dental visits, auto maintenance appointments and even glances in the bathroom mirror all help people monitor performance, catch potential problems and assure that all is – or will be – well.

What’s true of teeth, engines and grooming is also true of finances: regular checkups are required. Why? Changes both great and small affect the strategies people have developed to achieve their financial goals. Unfortunately, too many people act as though once their financial program is in place their work is done. This isn’t so.

As a general rule, people should review their financial program at least once each year. Certain life changes – the birth or adoption of a child, a change in marital status (married, divorced, widowed), the death of a family member or changes to one’s health – should serve as reminders that a financial tune-up is in order.

Other changes in personal economics can also have a huge impact on people’s financial programs. These may include shifts in employment status or salary (e.g. loss of job or a pay cut/freeze), home ownership changes, significant changes in total assets or debt, the receipt of an inheritance, and tax law changes can all make previous plans obsolete.

It is a rare person who hasn’t been affected in the last 12 months by changes in the economic landscape, yet many people don’t stop to consider how these changes affect their overall financial program.

How can a person perform a financial checkup? For those with a do-it-yourself mentality, a number of print and electronic resources exist to help them monitor their finances. However, most people can benefit from the knowledge, experience and insight that financial services professionals offer.

Qualified financial professionals can help people evaluate their present financial strategies and keep abreast of new laws, regulations, products and economic developments. Even more important, financial professionals can challenge unrealistic assumptions people may have and help them overcome money management’s greatest threat: procrastination.

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