4 Financial 'To-Do's' for Right Now

Your do-today financial check-up.

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Roger Wohlner

The title of this article is about as close to the shouting and ranting of CNBC’s Jim Cramer as I get. Rather, here are some timely and timeless tasks for your financial to-do list.

Rebalance your portfolio. The stock market is up nicely so far in 2012. If you haven’t looked at your various accounts lately you might find that your portfolio needs to be rebalanced. You may be overweight in equities, which means that you might be taking on more risk than you intend. Keep in mind that it is important to rebalance your overall portfolio across all of your various accounts, not just your 401(k) or your largest IRA account. Also, keep in mind that contributing some extra money to one or more of your accounts using new money versus buying and selling current positions (or in combination with buying and selling) is a great way to rebalance.

Check your 401(k) contribution level. Is it your intention to max out your 401(k) for the year (current limits are $17,000 if you are under 50 and $22,500 if you are 50 or over at any time in 2012)? Check your latest pay stub to see of you are on track, and adjust your withholding if you are running behind. Even if your contributions are more modest this is a good time to take stock and see if you might be able to up your percentage a bit. Over time even small increases in the amount saved can make a big difference in your ultimate retirement nest egg.

Older man budgeting his finances

Start or fund a retirement plan if you are self-employed. If you don’t have a retirement plan in place for yourself, make 2012 the year to start. In fact if you haven’t made your 2011 contribution yet, you can still do a SEP-IRA if you filed an extension on your taxes. Plans to consider are the SEP-IRA, the Solo 401(k), the SIMPLE, or if your business cash flow permits a Cash Balance Pension Plan. Whatever your situation, start a retirement plan for yourself. You work too hard not to reap the benefits. If you have a plan in place, make sure you fund it to the maximum amount possible.

Carefully review your company benefits as you head into open enrollment season. Your company likely goes through open enrollment for your benefits during the fall. This is an opportunity, generally your only one during the year, to change or update the employee benefits that you use. Take the time to review your benefits, any new offerings, and take into account any family or other changes in your situation. Your benefits package generally comprises a significant percentage of your overall compensation. If health insurance, an FSA account, dependent care, or other benefits are offered, make sure that you pick the right options for your situation and that you get the most value from what your employer offers.

Nothing radical here, but all of these are important and can mean money in your pocket now and in the future.

Roger Wohlner, CFP®, is a fee-only financial adviser at Asset Strategy Consultants based in Arlington Heights, Ill., where he provides advice to individual clients, retirement plan sponsors, foundations, and endowments. Read more about Roger here.