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10 financial strategies to keep 2023 moving in the right direction

As we head into the second quarter of 2023, uncertainty continues to dominate the economy and markets. Use this 10-point checklist to keep your financial plan on track.
Couple sitting on couch and looking over finances.With 2023 off to a bumpy start in the financial markets, now’s a good time to review your personal financial plan and be ready for the challenges and opportunities ahead. The following checklist will guide you through 10 key financial, investment, and balance sheet planning items.

1. Take stock of your portfolio strategy

With uncertainty around inflation and the Federal Reserve’s policy to address it, 2023 has seen continued volatility in the markets. A disciplined investment approach focused on sound long-term targets remains an appropriate strategy to navigate today’s environment.

Review your investment portfolio and ask these questions:

  • Are my current cash reserves adequate? Do I need to adjust my balances?
  • How do my overall portfolio allocations compare to my targets? Are there any rebalancing opportunities to consider?
  • Are there any opportunistic alternative investments that may be appropriate in light of recent market activity?

A disciplined investment approach focused on sound long-term targets remains an appropriate strategy to navigate today’s environment.

2. Consider adjusting your retirement plan savings

If you haven’t already made adjustments to your retirement plan contributions, keep in mind it’s possible to allocate more to tax-deferred accounts in 2023. Consider these options:

  • 401(k), 403(b), and 457 plan participants can defer up to $22,500 of their wages, with another $7,500 possible for those over 50. Total defined contribution plan limits (including profit sharing, employer contribution, etc.) increased to $66,000.
  • You can contribute up to $6,500 to an IRA and an (unchanged) $1,000 additional for those over age 50.
  • Those with health savings accounts can contribute up to $7,750 (family) or $3,850 (self-only) and another $1,000 for those over age 50.

3. Optimize yield strategies

Yields on cash and bonds have increased dramatically over the past year bringing better options to generate yield without taking much, if any, principal risk. For example, brokerage money market funds are yielding significantly more than checking and savings accounts at traditional banks. If you’re considering investments in bonds, evaluating credit quality, interest rate sensitivity (duration), and taxable versus municipal bond exposure is a worthwhile exercise in light of the continually changing market dynamics.

Yields on cash and bonds have increased dramatically over the past year bringing better options to generate yield without taking much, if any, principal risk.

4. Meet with your tax and financial advisors to plan for the remainder of the year

As your tax returns or extensions are finalized heading into April, consider meeting with your tax and financial professionals to review 2022 details and 2023 tax-estimate planning. These collaborative discussions can help identify strategies to proactively manage 2023 liabilities.

5. Reaffirm your personal risk management strategy

Review your property and casualty insurance coverages to confirm what’s covered — and what’s not — and determine if any changes are warranted. If you own coastal property, the marketplace could be changing dramatically in your location. Check with your agent to review your coverages and get in front of any potential surprises at this year’s renewal. And don’t forget about your personal umbrella policy — ensure your limits are adequate and all appropriate assets are listed on the coverage such as ATVs, boats, and rental properties.

6. Check on any education funding changes

Education accounts require regular evaluation to ensure projected balances align with the evolving plans of young beneficiaries. Additionally, the backdrop for college costs continues to change. Many top-tier schools continue to push forward with tuition increases while some other institutions are starting to protect enrollment numbers through cost decreases (published or otherwise). Being aware of marketplace dynamics and beneficiary intentions can help you make informed funding decisions.

Also note that the Secure Act 2.0 introduced a potential new planning opportunity for Section 529 plan owners and beneficiaries. While details still remain to be ironed out, account holders with excess funds in these accounts may have a new option to help beneficiaries fund Roth IRAs. This is an opportunity to continue monitoring.

7. Review your estate planning documents

Dust off your estate planning documents and confirm whether your crisis plan still meets your wishes. The review should include the “who” of your plan, such as:

  • Who’s named as:
    • Executor and trustee?
    • Financial power of attorney to act on your behalf financially if you can’t?
    • Medical durable power of attorney to make medical decisions for you if you can’t?
  • If you have minor children, who’s named as their guardian and conservator?

Dust off your estate planning documents and confirm whether your crisis plan still meets your wishes.

If you’re a business owner, confirm that any existing buy/sell agreements remain appropriate in light of current business and ownership dynamics. This review should also include funding considerations.

8. Take advantage of available estate planning opportunities

If one of your priorities involves transferring wealth to manage estate tax exposure, don’t forget the nontaxable “freebies,” including:

  • Annual exclusion gifts, the limit for which has increased to $17,000 per person.
  • Medical expenses, which can be paid without limitation if you pay the medical provider directly.
  • Education expenses, which can also be paid with no limit if you issue payment to the institution and not an individual.

9. Plan now for sunsetting estate tax exemptions

If your family is considering wealth transfer strategies, you should be actively developing and implementing your plan now as the current estate exemption is scheduled to drop in half in 2026. If you’re considering wealth transfer to minimize future tax bills, timing is important, and you may benefit from doing so sooner rather than later.

2023 features yet another large inflation adjustment to the gift tax exemption figure; families that had previously used all their exemption can make additional gifts this year. Check with your advisor.

10. Review your charitable account strategy

Those holding donor-advised funds should check on current balances and determine how much, if any, they want to grant this year. Having a budget in mind helps smooth execution and makes it easier to remember to use these funds throughout the year, as appropriate.

Private foundation (PF) board members may want to revisit investment policy in light of changing forward-looking return expectations in bonds, stocks, and alternatives. PFs that have been more aggressive in recent years to meet return targets in a low-yield environment may have more flexibility going forward than they’ve been accustomed to. These investment policy reviews are also a good opportunity to revisit environmental, social, and governance policies, if desired.

As 2023 evolves, the economy and financial climate continues to be punctuated by uncertainty. Now’s the time to proactively consider the risks — and articulate the opportunities — to ensure your personal financial plan remains current and effective whatever the future brings.

Past performance does not guarantee future results. All investments include risk and have the potential for loss as well as gain.

Data sources for peer group comparisons, returns, and standard statistical data are provided by the sources referenced and are based on data obtained from recognized statistical services or other sources believed to be reliable. However, some or all of the information has not been verified prior to the analysis, and we do not make any representations as to its accuracy or completeness. Any analysis nonfactual in nature constitutes only current opinions, which are subject to change. Benchmarks or indices are included for information purposes only to reflect the current market environment; no index is a directly tradable investment.

Plante Moran Financial Advisors (PMFA) publishes this update to convey general information about market conditions and not for the purpose of providing investment advice. Investment in any of the companies or sectors mentioned herein may not be appropriate for you. You should consult a representative from PMFA for investment advice regarding your own situation.

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