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New Year & Old Challenges

I don’t know if it’s age or the weather but I toast each new year with a cocktail of dread and anxiety.  Akin to watching the old Jerry Lewis Labor Day Telethons -  knowing school starts the next day.  Sure, there’s the inevitable holiday hangover as I singularly take down Michelle’s too-many decorations. Understandably, she’s preoccupied mixing & matching her freshly stocked Kardashian closet. But otherwise, nothing really changed with a turn of the calendar.  I realize December means checklists and Januarys are for resolutions - but I want to flip the script.  My Puritan pledge is usually out the door by MLK Day but scribbling down a few easily attainable tasks may have legs (it allegedly takes 90 repetitions of a behavior to make it a habit[i]).  This year presents an additional wrinkle with the 2018 Tax Reform.
 
  • Maximize all available retirement contributions. 401k’s are now $18,500 (additional $6000 over age 50).IRA’s are $5500 with an additional $1000 catch up for those 50+. Even if you’re above the income phase-out, you can still make a non-deductible contribution to shield income.This in turn could be converted to a Roth IRA.
  • Review {actually calling the agent} P & C insurance coverage.Get a detailed home replacement estimate.The cost of materials is rising – especially in the wake of the latest domestic natural disasters – lumber prices up 22% since the start of 2016. The recent ‘Frost Quake[ii]’ phenomenon has me rattled.
  • Get a thorough tax planning review.[iii] Evaluate the new tax reform effects & strategies – especially for small business owners.
  • Formally draw up a will. Sadly, like a cobbler with no shoes, I have neglected doing this.
  • Consider some type of identity theft protection.[iv] In the world we now live in, odds are much better of an identity hack than a physical burglary. Domestically, there are 74 burglaries every hour but nearly 2000 identity thefts.[v] There is also a 22% chance of a medical identity theft.
  • Find some appreciated stock for charitable gifting.
 
Far too often, we get bogged down on the numbers & lose sight of what’s really important: our health.   As I shadow box that aging stranger in the mirror, I am reminded that we’re all chasing daylight.  Michelle is lovingly trying to defer the process – unfortunately, it’s by introducing something called cauliflower rice.   
 
  • Get a full health checkup.Though I hesitate after hearing of my brother Jim’s botched colonoscopy experience. I shouldn’t have probed.
  • Take full advantage of Health Savings Accounts[vi] (HSA’s) - $6900 for families (age 55+ $1000 catch up). Given the full deductibility, these are becoming mini IRA’s.
  • For families being squeezed by rising healthcare premiums: might want to investigate Medishare or Liberty Health Share. In effect, they are shared medical cost pools – perhaps an attractive alternative to those paying high monthly premiums & deductibles.
  • Garden, grill and golf more – not necessarily in that order. And for good measure, each minute of exercise supposedly lengthens our lives 7 minutes.[vii] For those that enjoy living, that's a good risk/reward. Or could be fake news.
 
Maybe writing all this down will be the first step to a January attitude tune up.  Similar to a stray cat: half the battle is just showing up.  Thankfully, I’ve never been an over-achiever so this modest list looks doable.  More importantly, may you & your families have a wealthy and healthy 2018.
 
Fiscal Fitness is a publication of Houlihan Asset Management, LLC for the benefit of its clients and friends.     Houlihan Asset Management.  Wealth Counseling/Asset Management.  Copyright 2018
 
 
[i] Maggie Baker, Crazy About Money, (Harper Collins) 2010
[iii] Plug for Houlihan LLP
[v] Melanie Medina, “What Are Your Odds of Getting Your Identity Theft Stolen?”, Identity Force, 2017
[vi] Need to be covered by a high deductible health plan (HDHP) and not enrolled in Medicare



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