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Additional sets of eyes help in setting financial goals

By utahvalley360.com

It’s always smart to have someone look over your writing.

If that person is an expert editor, the second set of eyes is even more valuable. (On a related note, thanks to Briana Stewart, who read this article for me.)

The same is true with your finances.

Having a second set of eyes (like a spouse) on your finances and financial goals is good. Having a team of qualified, professional eyes — each looking from a unique perspective — enables you to make the best decisions possible.

The end of the year is an ideal time to use your team of trusted financial advisers. You can evaluate the past year, adjust for any life changes and evaluate your current course. Here is a list of professionals you may want to consider adding to your sets of eyes (for a more detailed look at how attorneys play into this, see page 105).

 

Certified public accountant

Certified Public Accountants are experts in income tax considerations and planning.  CPAs typically charge by the hour, meaning their advice tends to be free from ulterior motives.

“Almost every adviser has financial benefits fixed to the advice they give, except CPAs,” says Eric Nuttall, a partner with Hawkins, Cloward & Simister in Orem. “We charge by the hour, which is one of the reasons people don’t come in to see their accountant. But it’s also one of the main advantages of speaking with your accountant.”

CPAs are helpful every time you file taxes, especially for the relatively small fee they charge, but are especially helpful when once-in-a-lifetime issues come up — like an inheritance.

“Everyone messes up when it comes to receiving an inheritance,” Eric says. “There are specific tax issues that come into play when you get an inheritance that people just don’t know how to navigate by themselves.”

Other end-of-the-year considerations to discuss with your tax professional include capital gain and loss planning, health savings accounts and specific issues relating to that tax year. For example, there are specific benefits to converting a traditional IRA into a Roth IRA starting in 2010 for high-income individuals, but planning should start now to check on eligibility and strategy.

 

Insurance agent

Insurance is typically in the business of minimizing risk and taking care of your family in case of those dreaded rainy days. As part of your year-end planning, it’s also smart to review your insurance needs.

“You should discuss life changes that affect insurance,” says David Lender, president of Lender Insurance in Orem. “If you have a child turning 16 who you need to put on your auto insurance, you can be in for a shock.”

Besides evaluating things with your current insurance provider, the end of the year is a great time to review your policy and costs, and to shop around to make sure you’re still getting the deal you want.

 

Financial planners and

investment professionals

A qualified financial planner offers a wide-view approach to your finances and will work to put in strategies designed to help your wealth grow. An annual review is crucial. As the current economic conditions have taught us, a good investment strategy two years ago might be a major mistake today.

“We get to know people and what their attitudes are toward money,” says David Palmer, a registered representative with Utah Community Investment Services in Provo. “Then we work with the client to make sure we get them where they want to be and when.”

Think of it as subtle course corrections of a long journey. Even though you know the general direction you’re headed, you will want to consult the map every once in a while to make sure you’re on track.

 

Banking professional

With a new year approaching and many families looking to adjust household budgets for the upcoming year, it’s important to get input from your banking professional. Banks and credit unions offer a wide variety of programs and resources to make budgeting and getting out of debt easier.

“We have free credit counseling for our members and have member access to debt payoff acceleration software,” says Brad Norton, senior vice president of marketing and development for UCCU in Provo.

As lifestyle adjustments are being considered (new gym membership, anyone?) the end of the year is also a great time to consider starting conveniences like online bill paying or automatic savings withdrawal. UV

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