As the year draws to a close, there might be a slew of tasks on your to-do list. One task to consider is setting up a meeting with your financial professional to review your investments. If you take the time to get organized now, it may help you accomplish your long-term goals more efficiently. Here are some steps that might help.
Evaluate your investment portfolio
During the meeting with your financial professional, review how your overall investment portfolio fared over the past year and determine whether adjustments are needed to keep it on track.
Here are some questions to consider:
How did your investments perform during the year? Did they outperform, match, or underperform your expectations?
What caused your portfolio to perform the way it did? Was it due to one or multiple factors?
Were there any consistencies or anomalies compared to past performance?
Does money need to be redirected in order to pursue your short-term and long-term goals?
Is your portfolio adequately diversified, and does your existing asset allocation still make sense?
Addressing these issues might help you determine whether your investment strategy needs to change in the coming year.
Aim for balance
During the portfolio review process, look at your current asset allocation among stocks, bonds, and cash alternatives. You might determine that one asset class has outperformed the others and now represents a larger proportion of your portfolio than desired. In this situation, you might want to rebalance your portfolio.
The process of rebalancing typically involves buying and selling securities to restore your portfolio to your targeted asset allocation based on your risk tolerance, investment objectives, and time frame. For example, you might sell some securities in an overweighted asset class and use the proceeds to purchase assets in an underweighted asset class; of course, this could result in a tax liability.
If you own taxable investments that have lost money, consider selling shares of losing securities before the end of the year to recognize a tax loss on your tax return. Tax losses, in turn, could be used to offset any tax gains. When attempting to realize a tax loss, remember the wash sale rule, which applies when you sell a security at a loss and repurchase the same security within 30 days of the sale. When this happens, the loss is disallowed for tax purposes.
If you don't want to sell any of your current investments but want to change your asset allocation over time, you might adjust future investment contributions so that more money is directed to the asset class you want to grow. Once your portfolio's asset allocation reaches your desired balance, you can revert back to your previous strategy, if desired. Keep in mind that asset allocation and diversification do not guarantee a profit or protect against loss; they are methods used to help manage investment risk.
Your financial professional can help you understand how your investments may be affected by capital gains and other taxes. You can learn more about current tax laws and rates by visiting www.irs.gov.
Set goals for the coming year
After your year-end investment review, you might resolve to increase contributions to an IRA, an employer-sponsored retirement plan, or a college fund next year. With a fresh perspective on where you stand, you may be able to make better choices next year, which could potentially benefit your investment portfolio over the long term.
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