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It's Your Money: Now's the time to ...

  • Published
  • By Ralph Lunt
  • Air Force Reserve Command
Log in to your Thrift Savings Plan account (www.tsp.gov). Are your deferrals consistent with your investment philosophy? In plain English, are you investing in fund(s) with a risk level and objective that you are comfortable with? Should you rebalance? Several of the funds have done very well over the past year, and it's quite possible that your desired asset allocation is askew. 

Review your life insurance beneficiary designations. I know I've hammered on this before, but it's so important, I'll continue to do so! 

Set up a Roth Individual Retirement Account. If you have extra cash to invest, this is certainly an account to seriously consider. Roth IRAs are my financial weapon of choice. They're not perfect, but they're darn good. In a nutshell, after-tax money that if properly cared for will allow for tax-free distributions of all earnings. Parents, if your children earn money from a summer job, they, too, can open a Roth IRA! Make sure you understand and follow the rules. 

Look over your property and liability insurance. If you haven't spoken to your insurance agent in a year or more, I'd strongly recommend you pull together all your insurance papers and give him or her a call. Review your policy line by line looking for holes in your coverage. Discuss the ramifications of your hard-earned possessions being damaged or destroyed by fire, theft, collision, water or wind. For those of you in an area where homes have appreciated in value, double-check to make sure you haven't blown through the limits of your homeowner's policy. 

Go to annualcreditreport.com and run your credit report with one of the three sponsoring agencies. Ideally you would check this three times a year, rotating among the three providers. 

Open a 529 account for yourself or your children. I mentioned in a previous column that this is how my wife and I save for our children's college expenses. 

Validate the amount of life insurance coverage on yourself and, if issued, your spouse. My rule of thumb is to take the total amount you or your beneficiaries would receive and multiply it by .04, which represents a 4 percent withdrawal rate. If this number, in conjunction with other savings and income sources, allows you or your beneficiaries to maintain the desired standard of living, then the level of coverage is most likely correct. If not, I recommend you add accordingly. 

(Editor's note: This feature is designed to provide financial advice of a general nature. Individuals should conduct their own research and consult a financial adviser before making any financial decisions. Based in Cleveland, Ohio, Mr. Lunt is a certified financial planner and vice president of a financial planning and consulting firm. He is also a lieutenant colonel in the Air Force Reserve, serving as the reserve forces director for the Great Lakes region of the Civil Air Patrol advisers program.)