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4 Ways to Boost Your Financial Wellness This Holiday Season

5 ways to boost your financial wellness during the holiday season

The holidays offer a great opportunity for us to reconnect with loved ones, relatives, and friends. From Thanksgiving dinners and seasonal gift shopping to holiday get-togethers and family gatherings, these times are truly special. But apart from the joy, merriment, good cheer, and great company, many Americans find this period financially stressful.

Discretionary spending, in the form of gift buying and other holiday shopping, ups the pressure on household budgets. And for a large proportion of retired and working Americans, the coming year-end may increase the brunt of existing financial pressures and obligations. Having sufficient income and healthy cash-flow is a concern for all households, especially people in their retirement years. The holidays are an ideal time-frame for financial review, but it can be intimidating to get our house in order, as personal finances are tedious, detailed, and, for many, overwhelming.

However, a secure financial life is well within reach, and it involves taking the right steps. If you are retired or approaching your golden years, read on for four quick tips to boost your financial wellness this holiday season.

5 Steps Toward Greater Financial Peace of Mind

If you are under pressure to save for retirement, consider holding back on holiday spending. If retirement is around the corner, excessive holiday shopping can be impactful. According to the National Retail Federation, the average holiday shopper plans to spend $936 in 2016. Nearly six in ten Americans plan to buy something for themselves, the NRF reports, spending an average of almost $140. There's nothing wrong with doting on yourself and others. But it pays off to look for ways to curtail spending and allocate more money towards retirement savings. Prior planning can go a long way toward greater cost efficiency.

Engage in discussion with your family and friends, and set expectations ahead of time. Will there be gift exchanges, and if so, how will they be facilitated? Will a spending cap be set in place? These strategies will help with budgeting. And by all means, don't tap into your retirement savings for one-off holiday spending. Even routine retirement saving habits can go out the window when we justify an unforgettable gift for a loved one or other expenditures.

Keeping your savings intact and allocating additional funds toward saving will strengthen your future financial security.

If you don't have a financial plan in place, create one. According to Northwestern Mutual, 33% of Americans haven't done anything to prepare for their financial future. Around 58% of Americans believe their financial planning could be stronger. Say you are within 10 years of retirement or 10 years or less into retirement -- that is what we call the "retirement red zone." No matter what, the decisions we make in this time-frame will have an impact on the rest of our lifetimes.

If you don't have a financial plan, draft one. It's drudge work, but having a blueprint for your financial future will steadily pay off. For starters, it can be as simple as goal-setting:

  • Determining lifestyle expectations
  • Deciding on personal priorities and milestones
  • Writing down needs, goals, and objectives

Once you have these set in place, map out what you will need to do to accomplish them. Work with a licensed financial professional specializing in income planning and wealth preservation strategies to plan for future income needs.

Have a conversation with family members about retirement and financial goals. Family gatherings bring intimate social settings. As a result, the holidays are an ideal time for money talk with your family. Not only can you share what is on your mind, but also get valuable feedback and input from loved ones. Some topics that may be on the conversation agenda are:

  • Retirement planning decisions
  • Retirement "bucket list" goals
  • Wishes and preferences for medical care
  • Expectations and preferences for long-term care
  • Estate planning & wealth transfer plans
  • End-of-life plans and concerns
  • Multigenerational money topics -- working together to pay for college or other big expenditures
  • And other personalized financial topics

These conversations may come about organically during the course of eating, or the discussion may need to gently prompted in a financial direction. Either way, discussing money during the holidays is an efficient way to get timely financial discussions on the table.

Have a year-end financial review. The holidays are also often an optimal time to conduct a year-end review of financials. Careful analysis will help identify financial strengths, financial weaknesses, and benchmarks for next-year goal-setting. A financial review can consist of these action items:

  • Assessing your portfolio holdings and other investments
  • Examining income expenditures for year
  • Outlining income needs for new year
  • Searching for ways to pay down debt
  • Reviewing account statements
  • Investigating means for alleviating tax liability
  • And any other steps needed to plan out your next year

If you are framing your retirement income expectations, be sure to account for inflation in your plans. And Americans getting into the later years of retirement -- starting in the late sixties and early seventies -- may start to see their health costs per year increase. Healthcare costs will need to be factored into the financial planning, as well.

Ready to Request a Professional, No-Obligation of Your Retirement Finances?

The point is the holidays offer a powerful springboard for getting your financial house in order. Follow these steps and be judicious with your financial life, and financial wellness is more than within grasp. If you would like to see if you're on track for your retirement and income goals, we invite you to meet with a financial professional for a no-obligation, no-cost consultation.

Use our Find a Licensed Advisor section to connect directly with an independent financial professional, and to request a personal strategy session to discuss your needs and goals. And should you have any questions or concerns, call 877.476.9723.

Author: Ian

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