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Starting The Year Out On The Right Foot

What are some different things you can do to start the year out on the right foot financially? 

In this episode, we discuss what issues you should consider at the start of the new year. We talk about personal goal setting and how to line up your investments insurance and estate planning up with your goals. We also touch on the importance of an emergency fund to make sure you can have a successful new year. 

Here are a few topics we will cover: 

  • - Being purposeful with your spending
  • - Protect the emergency fund - only using it for true emergencies
  • - Reviewing your insurances for the year
  • - Tax notices
  • - Trusts 

Our Podcast – Your Investment Partners

Sit down with Paul and Garrett of Ascend Investment Partners for a bi-weekly conversation about all things financial. Focusing on helping you plan, keep, and grow for a bright future.


Thanks for tuning in. Questions about today's episode let us know. 


(801) 476 - 1200

Full Transcript:

00;00;06;29 - 00;00;24;10

Garrett & Paul

Hello and welcome to your investment partners with Paul and Garrett, where we talk about all things financial, focusing on helping you plan, keep and grow for a successful future. If you're new to the podcast, welcome. And if you're tuning in again, welcome back and thank you for listening. Hello and welcome to your investment partners with Paul and Garrett.

00;00;24;17 - 00;00;42;02

Garrett & Paul

Today we are talking about what issues you should consider at the start of the new year. We talk about personal goal setting and how to line up your investments, insurance and estate planning up with your goals. Lastly, we touch on the importance of an emergency fund to make sure you can have a successful new Year. My name is Garrett Smith and we look forward to having you with us today.

00;00;42;11 - 00;01;01;28

Garrett & Paul

Episode 12 Well, here we are. It's cold here in Logan. I hope some of you are in some places warm. I know, Bob, you're out there in the in the warm area. And we've got people around the country and, you know, this time of year is hard for me because there's not enough snow to play. You know, you can't ski, you can't snowmobile.

00;01;02;05 - 00;01;17;00

Garrett & Paul

It's dark early. I mean, it gets 7:00 at night and I'm just like, no time to go to bed. You have to get dark for 2 hours by the time snow rolls around and then it's cold. And I just we just need more snow. Yeah, we're just recording this right at the end of November, just to give some context.

00;01;17;00 - 00;01;33;18

Garrett & Paul

And there's been calls for a few days, but there's not enough snow to have fun yet, fortunately, is the Christmas season. So I love the Christmas season. There's lots of lights, lots of good things going on. But man, this time of year is just tougher. So anyway. Well, you know, I think that does impact a little bit of optimism.

00;01;33;18 - 00;01;54;22

Garrett & Paul

I think sometimes you're kind of balancing dark nights as well as Christmas hope. Yeah. So it's kind of a fun that dichotomy of the year, the end, you know, the year's winding down, but you're also kind of gearing up for for a new year as well. And, you know, that's what we kind of wanted to talk about today was, you know, what should you do January one?

00;01;54;25 - 00;02;15;11

Garrett & Paul

You know, what's what's the year, the new year look like so that you kind of get yourself out on the right foot? Yeah, I love I love the beginning of the year. I love shutting down the old year and just kind of figuring out how things went. And then I always love, you know, new starts. And first the year's a good time.

00;02;15;15 - 00;02;36;13

Garrett & Paul

Good time to do that. Good time to look back at, you know, how did how did your goals go? How did how do the things work? I'm a goal setter. I have been my my whole life. I was telling Garrett before we pushed the iron button, I said, you know, I, I love goals. I've been very successful at accomplishing all my goals that set for my weight loss goal.

00;02;36;13 - 00;02;54;24

Garrett & Paul

I think my I think my weight loss goal is is tough because I like to eat more than I like to lose weight. So that one's a tough one for me. When the food's good and you work at a desk, odds are against. Yeah. And modern day America for sure. Yeah. I think goals is kind of a fun conversation.

00;02;54;24 - 00;03;14;05

Garrett & Paul

One thing I started doing years ago as I wrapped my year end goals up at the end of October, and so my New Year goals start November one, and it just kind of prevents me from slumping at the end of the year. And, you know, so now I'm mentally and emotionally, I'm already moving into next year, which which for me works a lot.

00;03;14;05 - 00;03;30;06

Garrett & Paul

Well, I used to do end of year goals and it just just didn't work out. I just kind of drug my feet from about November 1st through the end of the year because it's, you know, good foods coming. Christmas has come and there's always something that kind of gets in the way for sure. You know, just I don't know.

00;03;30;06 - 00;03;53;27

Garrett & Paul

I like that their businesses do different fiscal year ends And so I've got a different goal year end I guess. And is there, you know, any high level ideas that you like from a goal setting perspective that's kind of worked out for you? Well, I just think I just think setting realistic goals are not always trade off on goals, just like my example of, you know, losing weight versus eating and, you know, financial goals have the same, same situation.

00;03;53;27 - 00;04;15;16

Garrett & Paul

You know, you you can you can be too aggressive with saving, you know, the trade there is you have no life. So, you know, yeah, I'm going to save 100% of what I make and work more, save everything, work more, save everything. Don't see anybody else. So just just setting goals. But I'm a I'm a big fan of writing them down and then regularly reviewing them.

00;04;15;16 - 00;04;37;00

Garrett & Paul

You've got to have a mental picture of of, you know, which direction you go. And for me, it just it just helps it. It helps my keep my mind set on the direction I'm supposed to be going that I choose to go, not just, you know, I'm just not in the current. I'm swimming, you know, some probably downstream, but at least I have a direction I'm going.

00;04;37;00 - 00;05;02;19

Garrett & Paul

So that's always the easiest is to swim downstream for sure. But I think there's, you know, the closer goals get, you know, when you're setting one month or 12 month goals, yeah, the cost of them become a lot more clear. And I think any time we're doing retirement planning or financial goal planning for people, it's easy to say, I want all the money today with no risk and then I want to retire tomorrow.

00;05;02;19 - 00;05;32;00

Garrett & Paul

But there's obviously a cost to that. And and so the I think the clearer you can make the cost of your goals, the more successful you'll be. You know, like your example of of, you know, wanting to retire in a short amount of time requires high income and spending zero. You know, it's just there's it's a big trade off but oftentimes when you start to get clarity around what will it actually cost for me to retire to a certain age or to, you know, buy a house at a certain age, whatever the financial goal may be.

00;05;32;17 - 00;05;53;13

Garrett & Paul

It oftentimes I've seen it leads to kind of a tweaking of that goal. You know, maybe the goal isn't to retire. It's just I just don't like the job that I'm in. And I think New Year's a good time to kind of relook at those of saying, you know, the cost of this goal isn't worth it, but it is in line with actually just a slight change and that cost is worth it.

00;05;53;18 - 00;06;13;09

Garrett & Paul

Right. And so when when you're looking at New Year goals, you know, New Year's a great time to kind of review those goals and financial goals and see where you're standing. You know, maybe a tweak in the goal is not a bad thing. I don't think it's giving up in any way. It's just making sure, like you said, your doing your best to swim downstream and not always upstream.

00;06;13;19 - 00;06;50;06

Garrett & Paul

Well, and circumstances constantly change in our lives, right? I mean, you know, things happen during the year that that make a goal more achievable or less achievable and and you know I think we have to be careful not to set goals that are that are not, you know, realistically achievable. And I think long term, we can set some really lofty goals, but year by year goals, you know, we have to be careful not to, you know, like my goal is always to lose £50 this year.

00;06;50;06 - 00;07;08;18

Garrett & Paul

And that's not really. But because I know that's unrealistic. But but, you know, maybe something more modest lose ten and then you get there and then you say, I did that. I can lose another ten saving money the same way I can, you know, I can save $200 a month. Oh, you know what? I'm I got a raise at work.

00;07;08;18 - 00;07;32;25

Garrett & Paul

I can you know, I can bump that up to $350 a month. And so we have to adjust and change as our circumstances change, for sure. Yeah. And the goal may not be necessarily to lose £10. It's just to feel better moving around. And so the goal is just get up and down off the floor instead of trying to lose, you know, if I just always think that the goal that you maybe set for yourself ten years ago is probably different today.

00;07;33;09 - 00;07;55;11

Garrett & Paul

Yeah. So I also think the first of the year it's a good time to kind of, you know, last podcast we talked about reviewing year end goals and you know, keeping that top of mind I think is also helpful to have just saying, you know, was last year a success? Why? Why not? And how can I use that to kind of influence, you know, the year going forward?

00;07;55;11 - 00;08;25;23

Garrett & Paul

Obviously, we're fans of budgeting in one way or another, whether it's just at a high level or very granular. There's a word I ran into that I'm stuck on and you learn, but you know, of using the envelope system, you know, being real specific with every dollar that goes out. And obviously life circumstances dictate those. But the clarity of kind of deciding where you want the money to go usually is, you know, if you can live from a goals based, purpose based spending versus reactionary, seems to work out a lot better for most of our clients.

00;08;26;14 - 00;09;01;26

Garrett & Paul

Yeah, we just need to try and be purposeful with our spending. It seems like if you're purposeful, meaning, you know, we kind of have a handle on things, then we end up having funds to do some of those things that are really memorable. You know, if we just kind of go through and just, you know, keep putting out fires and just, you know, not really having purposeful spending, it's just, you know, I've just noticed that people that that that don't have some kind of a budget in place, it's just you know, it's just a11 check to the next.

00;09;01;26 - 00;09;23;02

Garrett & Paul

That's one fire to the next. It's just always really is. You always feel like you're slightly behind, you know, you're always running the yellow light, just trying to keep up with everything going on and I think the first place to always start at the beginning of the year is do I have a sufficient emergency fund? Right. Oftentimes in a year, sometimes those get broken into for one reason or another.

00;09;23;02 - 00;09;46;18

Garrett & Paul

And but, you know, making sure that those dollars are there, just building that slack in the system to just absorb any any shocks that may that will happen, you know, not me, you know, you know, life happens. And if you need to increase that, that should be priority number one of just making sure that emergency fund is is ready to go for the year and then doing your best to just keep it there.

00;09;46;29 - 00;10;08;00

Garrett & Paul

And I think that's the key to is is to try to protect that emergency fund. Let let's not let the emergency fund become oh, you know, I want to go to that concert fund. That's not an emergency. You really put it there and have it be for an emergency. And we work with a lot of clients on emergency funds.

00;10;08;00 - 00;10;24;12

Garrett & Paul

And, you know, they vary in size. They, you know, probably go from 10000 to $50000 as an emergency fund. And everybody's situation is a little different. But, you know, this is a good time of year to check it. Did it get used? Is it the right amount? We need to increase it or we or we get to go on our emergency fund going forward?

00;10;24;12 - 00;10;45;22

Garrett & Paul

For sure. Yeah. Also, you know, moving into the next steps is just being deliberate where the dollars go and then reviewing. I think kind of your insurances for the years is a great thing to do. Just making sure you have the right coverages, you know, get a new car, jersey your insurance line up to get transferred over. If you let you know, you let them know.

00;10;46;11 - 00;11;05;03

Garrett & Paul

You know, I think insurance is kind of a great thing to review whether it's right at the end of the year or the first year, just to make sure it's all lined up and ready to go. Yeah, just review those deductibles, you know, Do I have the right coverages? And I had you know, it's just at some point, you know, usually just pay them.

00;11;05;07 - 00;11;27;20

Garrett & Paul

And, you know, the problem I have is I have some that come due there and some that come due that couple of months later. And, you know, I just have to set a time where I'm just going to I just have to look at all these to make sure that they're that the coverage is where it needs to be and that the the deductibles and the types of insurances are in place that I'm that I'm that I'm choosing to have at this point.

00;11;27;20 - 00;11;48;05

Garrett & Paul

So, yeah, it's a good time to do that and just look at your insurances for sure. And I think deductibles are a great conversation to have because as your life changes, those numbers should change. Yes, lower deductibles usually when you're a little tighter on budget. But as you can increase that deductibility amount, generally speaking, your rates will go up, your cost of insurance will go down.

00;11;48;05 - 00;12;06;14

Garrett & Paul

And if you can kind of absorb some of those, that's yeah, you know, looking at your deductibles and and kind of matching that up, not necessarily in an emergency fund, but just having those dollars available. Yeah. You know, another thing that's really important to look at, I think this time of year is just what we call the asset allocation of your portfolio.

00;12;06;21 - 00;12;39;02

Garrett & Paul

And so asset allocation on your portfolio is kind of the ratio between how much you have in cash versus how much you have in bonds versus how much you have in stocks. And, you know, this is really a good time of year to do that. That's those metrics are what kind of control the risk of your portfolio. And the the older you get, the probably the higher amount that you're going to have in cash and bonds and a little bit less in stocks.

00;12;39;02 - 00;12;59;07

Garrett & Paul

But it's just something that we need to be intentional about. And the first the year's a good time to do that. Of course, we'll obviously review that when we have our sit down reviews through the course of the year, make sure that that's, you know, where it needs to be. As far as as far as what we know about your situation going forward.

00;12;59;07 - 00;13;20;04

Garrett & Paul

But again, that's just one of those things that you probably want to look at and say, you know, is there any adjustments to my portfolio that I need to make for for the year? Did stocks go up? Did they go down? Do I need to do a rebalance? So those kind of things. Yeah. And that's something we're always looking at on on our end from a, you know, investment perspective.

00;13;20;04 - 00;13;51;24

Garrett & Paul

But as life changes and as your goals change, that may, you know, tweak. Sometimes you're kind of reviewing these goals and you're saying, you know, I want to retire a year sooner. And that would obviously drive changes into the portfolio, assuming that, you know, that that works out for you. So as you're setting those goals, you know, bringing bringing them in and making sure the investments line up with those is, I think, very, very important, particularly if you have extra cash sitting around that's not being driven to any particular goal, getting that lined up.

00;13;52;15 - 00;14;11;07

Garrett & Paul

Sometimes there's cash that just gets built up in a savings account that's not really paying any interest and making sure those kind of are helping out on the long term goals in one way or another. Now, if it's there for a purpose, that's a different story that sometimes we just end up with extra dollars when we're on occasion.

00;14;11;17 - 00;14;41;14

Garrett & Paul

I think another thing too good thing to look at is you get tax notices through the end of the year and you want to take a look at how all your assets are titled, you know, your titling of assets, taking an idea of if you have a trust set up, making sure you know the homes in the name of the trust and things like that, it's a great time because all those notices are coming your way into your new year and just making sure that everything kind of got caught and included, did something to purchase a new piece of property that maybe you just bought in your name and not in the name of the

00;14;41;14 - 00;14;59;29

Garrett & Paul

trust that needs to be cleaned up or things like that. It's a great project to just kind of kick the year off with. Yeah, those tax notices do a really good job of letting you know if there's, you know, something amiss there. And it is really important. I mean, the reason you have a trust is is is to help with the distribution of those assets.

00;14;59;29 - 00;15;22;11

Garrett & Paul

But if you have a trust and you haven't moved, you know, your property into the trust, you just well, not have a trust. I mean. Right. Because if I if I have a home and so I have two homes, I got one in my trust and one's just in my name. If I pass away, that one that's just in my name has to go through probate.

00;15;22;11 - 00;15;45;19

Garrett & Paul

And that's one of the, you know, one of the things we get a trust document for. And speaking of a trust, I think the first there's probably a good time to to actually read your trust. I mean, I think most of us, we get a trust and we you know, they give us the booklet and and then we put it in the drawer and and then we we just never look at it again.

00;15;46;04 - 00;16;04;03

Garrett & Paul

And I know that's what happened to me. We, we did a trust in the in the nineties and, and just you know in the process of getting it updated and you know, all my kids are grown and it's just I read it and I go, Oh man, this should have been kind of updated as I, as I went along here.

00;16;04;03 - 00;16;28;04

Garrett & Paul

So life's little different now. It's totally different. So get that trust out and just you probably want to understand all the terminology and everything, but when it comes down to, you know, who your successor trustee is and how you want the distribution of the assets, just make sure that that still makes sense to you. If it still makes sense to put it away and then bring it out another year and and kind of read through it again and just make sure it makes sense in that way.

00;16;28;04 - 00;16;46;14

Garrett & Paul

At some point you'll probably go, Oh, I probably need that. I probably need to change that one, that that daughter got a divorce. And so I need to change that. And, you know, there's just life happens and things change and we just, you know, that's a good time to do it at the first year. Just look at that and make sure that it's where it needs to be.

00;16;46;24 - 00;17;03;21

Garrett & Paul

Yeah, those you know, those trust documents doesn't matter till it matters. And then it matters a lot. And then it's everything. Yeah. And then then it's really, really important. It's too late to change it at that point. Right. And so staying on top of it, like you said, you know, middle of January around here, there's not much going on.

00;17;04;03 - 00;21;26;24

Garrett & Paul

You got long, dark nights. You know, it's probably a good time to read a trust document. It'll put you to sleep. Might take a few nights, but yeah, trying to do it. Yeah. If you're struggling to go into sleep, pull out, baby. And still it's better than some almanacs or whatever they call it.

The commentary on this website reflects the personal opinions, viewpoints and analyses of the Ascend Investment Partners employees providing such comments, and should not be regarded as a description of advisory services provided by Kesler, Norman & Wride, LLC dba Ascend Investment Partners or performance returns of any Ascend Investment Partners Investments client. The views reflected in the commentary are subject to change at any time without notice. Nothing on this website constitutes investment advice, performance data or any recommendation that any particular security, portfolio of securities, transaction or investment strategy is suitable for any specific person. Any mention of a particular security and related performance data is not a recommendation to buy or sell that security. Ascend Investment Partners manages its clients’ accounts using a variety of investment techniques and strategies, which are not necessarily discussed in the commentary. Investments in securities involve the risk of loss. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. 

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