4 financial tasks you should stop putting off
April 29, 2014
As much as people grumble about doing their income taxes, most manage to file on time. In part, this may be because April 15 is probably the best-known deadline in all of finance.
Unfortunately, not all financial chores have a hard deadline the way taxes do, so they tend to go neglected. Here are four financial updates that you may regret putting off.
1. Revising your will
For many couples, having a first child is a trigger to make a will. This is extremely important, not only to make financial arrangements, but also to designate who should be responsible for your children should something happen to both you and your spouse.
Flash forward 20 years or so, and the priorities for your will might be different. As your children reach maturity, arranging for their care may not be as high a priority, but by then you may have acquired enough net worth for it to be worth setting up a trust so money is dispensed cautiously. Think of your first child reaching age 18 as a good trigger to take a fresh look at your will.
2. Updating your life insurance
You should consider getting life insurance when you get married, and you should certainly get it as soon as you have children. As time goes by though, your needs may change. In your peak earning years, the amount of income you would need to replace will probably increase, so you may need a bigger policy. As you approach retirement though, you may have accumulated enough net worth to make income replacement a lower priority, so at that point you might cut back on your insurance.
3. Review your savings accounts
People tend to stick with the same bank year-in and year out, but in recent years the environment for savings accounts has changed drastically. Interest on most savings accounts has fallen to nearly zero, while online savings accounts have emerged as a higher-interest alternative to traditional accounts.
If you have not compared rates and updated your savings account in the past five years, you may be leaving money on the table. While you are at it, look at your checking accounts as well. Many accounts have seen rising fees, and there may be cheaper alternatives to what you have now.
4. Updating retirement goals
A volatile stock market, a shaky employment environment and a precipitous drop in interest rates have all wrought havoc with retirement planning. If you have not updated your plan since before the Great Recession, a review of your retirement goals and savings rates is long overdue.
What is sneaky about the above tasks is that they are all things you have probably taken care of at some point previously. You have not neglected to do them at all, but you may have let them get badly out of date. Just remember: If these were all worth doing once, they are worth updating to make sure they remain effective.