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Shine a spotlight on your finances

A yearly financial review can be instrumental to your future financial success. Consider doing it at a point when you'll have ample time to take any corrective action before year's end. Here's a quick look at some of the key issues you should consider when conducting your review.

Review your retirement assets. Whether your retirement is a long way off or right around the corner, it is likely that you'll have to make periodic adjustments to your retirement portfolio. Make sure the investments you've chosen are still an accurate reflection of your risk tolerance and time horizon.

Keep tabs on college funding plans. With college costs reaching astronomical heights, you need to utilize every available college funding resource. Financial aid and scholarships, as well as the Lifetime Learning Credit and Hope Scholarship Credit may help alleviate the college cost crunch. However, aid and tax credits alone generally will not fund your child's college education. Make sure you're saving and investing enough to help meet your goals. At a minimum, take advantage of the tax savings offered through an Education IRA.

Assess your income tax picture. You may be able to reduce your tax burden -- sometimes significantly -- by making strategic tax decisions before the end of the year. Your tax professional can alert you to any tax planning strategies that might make sense for your situation.

Review critical documents. Because life's circumstances continually change, you should review your legal documents and beneficiary designations every year. This will entail carefully combing through any wills, trusts, retirement plan documents and life insurance policies to make sure they're up-to-date. Seek the assistance of a qualified adviser if any modifications are necessary.

Set goals for next year and beyond. A yearly review is an excellent time to start setting some long-term goals. Take a close look at your day-to-day finances to see if you can reduce expenses and save more. Then make an honest assessment of which goals are most important to you and then commit to meeting them.

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Bruce Hemmings

Bruce Hemmings is a Senior Vice President - Wealth Management and Financial Advisor at Morgan Stanley Smith Barney at Centerra. He can be reached at bruce.hemmings@mssb.com or (970) 776-5501.
The information contained in this article is not a solicitation to purchase or sell investments. Any information presented is general in nature and not intended to provide individually tailored investment advice. The strategies and/or investments referenced may not be suitable for all investors as the appropriateness of a particular investment or strategy will depend on an investor's individual circumstances and objectives. Investing involves risks and there is always the potential of losing money when you invest. The views expressed herein are those of the author and may not necessarily reflect the views of Morgan Stanley Smith Barney LLC, Member SIPC, or its affiliates.
Morgan Stanley Smith Barney Financial Advisors do not provide tax or legal advice. This material was not intended or written to be used for the purpose of avoiding tax penalties that may be imposed on the taxpayer. Individuals are urged to consult their personal tax or legal advisors to understand the tax and related consequences of any actions or investments described herein.

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