Make Sure Your Financial House Is In Order Before 2015: Six Top Tips For Peace Of Mind

By Kim Cloete

The holiday season is almost upon us, and with it an excellent opportunity to get your financial house in order. One of the keys to relax into the new year is to make a financial checklist. Most of these tasks can be accomplished simply, but the benefits can last a lifetime, believes Olivier Barbeau, senior managing partner for audit and advisory firm, Moore Stephens South Africa.

Here are six smart planning tasks that will give you peace of mind.

1. Review your will
We don't like talking about death and taxes but ensuring you have a valid and current will can alleviate further hardship for the loved ones that you leave behind. Have you considered changes in your personal circumstances and the impact they may have on your will?

2. Donate to charity
What charities have benefited from your generosity this past year? Contributions to qualified organizations help lower your tax bill.

3. Top up your retirement annuities with your bonus

Even if you contribute regularly to your retirement savings plan, take a few minutes to see whether you can make an additional contribution before the end of the year. It will ramp up your savings, add interest and can also reduce your taxable income for the year.

4. Review & revise your insurance policies

Review all policies: auto, home, health and life insurance. Be sure you have the correct amount of coverage, including personal liability protection. Stay on top of the household financial fundamentals, and the holidays will pretty much take care of themselves.

5. Review your investment portfolio
Keep track of your investment risk. Now is the time to think about what you own and the general asset allocations in your account. If you have a financial advisor, make an appointment now. Are you happy or is there something that needs to be rebalanced? Should poorly performing investments be dumped now?

6. Check the beneficiaries on investment policies

While reviewing your investments, also make sure you have designated a beneficiary for each account. It can be as important as writing a will, but it isn't as complex. It is especially important if you have had some changes in your life, such as a birth, a death, or a change in marital status.