by Bob Rauf


The end of the year is as good a time as ever to take a comprehensive look at your finances. Now is the time to reflect on the financial decisions you made in 2015 and to begin thinking about your financial goals for 2016. Having a plan in place can help you feel more secure about your financial situation, better protect you from the unexpected and preserve what you’re working so hard to achieve. Here are some financial planning tips to help you finish this year strong:

  1. Understand your benefits at work. Every year, companies offer new and existing employees enrollment periods, which often include changes or revisions. Know your options and select what’s best for you.
  2. Max your MATCH if you have employer-sponsored plans. This is an automatic savings device. Don’t leave money on the table if you are eligible.
  3. Update your will and insurance information to reflect life changes, such as marriage or new children. That includes beneficiaries with your employer insurance and your personal insurance. Review these documents annually to be sure they are current and accurate.
  4. Review and update your personal insurance needs. This includes life insurance, disability insurance and long-term care insurance. Are you covered for the unexpected and do you have the right amount of coverage?
  5. Review and update your investment portfolios annually. As markets fluctuate and returns change, be sure your asset allocation reflects your current risk tolerance and overall objectives.
  6. Create a budget or review your cash flow. You should really address this on a monthly basis to make sure you stay on track. Know where your money goes so you don’t overspend and create debt. The goal is to keep your savings on track.
  7. Consult with a financial professional. If you do not have one, find one. It’s no different than meeting with your doctor for an annual physical, your dentist for a cleaning, or your tax professional to be sure your deductions are accurate. It’s all about having a plan and staying on track for your long-term financial security.


Article prepared by Rauf with the cooperation of Northwestern Mutual. Rauf is the owner of Meridian Financial in Raleigh and Northwestern Mutual wealth management advisor. He can be reached at