Get ready for your year-end review

Q: I can’t believe it is December already! Is there anything specific I should be considering for my financial planning for year-end?

A: First, let me wish a very happy and healthy holiday and New Year to all of you. Yes, it’s hard to believe we’re nearing the end of 2011. And, as always, there are many items you should address regarding your finances in the coming months. Here are just a few things to consider.

The last few months of a year often prompt people to think about goals they want to pursue in the coming year. If your goals include financial issues, an annual review with your financial advisor is an excellent opportunity to focus on what you need to do to pursue them. Every person’s goals are unique, but you may want to think about the following areas when preparing for your review.

Building retirement assets

Your advisor can help you calculate how much you need to save for your later years. If you are coming up short, funding an IRA may help you close the gap.1 For the 2011 tax year, you may contribute a maximum of $5,000 to a traditional or Roth IRA — plus a $1,000 catch-up contribution if you are age 50 or older. If you haven’t yet made your 2011 contribution, you may do so up until April 15, 2012. These contribution limits will remain unchanged for the 2012 tax year.

Evaluating your estate

When crafting your financial plan, be sure to consider whether your investments complement the provisions of your will. As part of this exercise, your financial advisor can help you review the potential estate-planning benefits of stretch IRAs, Roth IRAs and other accounts. Don’t forget to review beneficiary designations to make sure they are up-to-date.

Assessing your asset allocation

Last but certainly not least, your financial advisor can make sure your portfolio’s mix of assets — stocks, bonds and cash investments — is on target given your risk tolerance and time horizon. A more aggressive mix may be appropriate for longer-term goals that are 10 or more years away, while being more conservative may be desirable for shorter-term objectives.

There may be other areas you want to pursue, but these few may provide initial food for thought. By capitalizing on the goal-setting opportunities of your annual review, you’ll improve your chances of making the coming year a building year for your financial future.

Jeremy Gussick is a financial advisor with LPL Financial, the nation’s largest independent broker-dealer.* Jeremy specializes in the financial planning needs of the LGBT community and was recently named a 2011 FIVE STAR Wealth Manager by Philadelphia Magazine.** He is active with several LGBT organizations in the Philadelphia region, including the Delaware Valley Legacy Fund, the Greater Philadelphia Professional Network and the Independence Business Alliance. OutMoney appears monthly. If you have a question for Jeremy, contact him at [email protected].

This article was prepared with the assistance of McGraw-Hill Financial Communications and is not intended to provide specific investment advice or recommendations for any individual. Consult your financial advisor or Jeremy Gussick if you have any questions. Securities and Financial Planning offered through LPL Financial, a Registered Investment Advisor. Member FINRA/SIPC. *Based on total revenues, as reported in Financial Planning Magazine, June 1996-2011. **Details on the award can be found at

Bonds are subject to market and interest rate risk if sold prior to maturity. Selling bonds prior to maturity may make the actual yield differ from their advertised yield and may involve a loss or gain. Bond values will decline as interest rates rise and are subject to availability and change in price.

General risks inherent to investments in stock include the fluctuation of market prices and dividend, loss of principal, market price at sell may be more or less than initial cost and potential illiquidity of the investment in a falling market.

An investment in cash equivalent securities is not insured or guaranteed by the FDIC, NCUA or any other government agency. Although the goal exists to preserve the value of your investment at a constant dollar rate, it is possible to lose money by investing in these securities.

*Asset allocation cannot eliminate risk of fluctuating prices and uncertain returns, nor can this strategy ensure profit or guarantee against loss.

1Withdrawals of earnings or other taxable amounts are subject to income tax, and if made prior to age 59-and-a-half, may be subject to an additional 10-percent federal tax penalty.