This annual New Year's column suggests steps readers can take to make the right money tips in the coming year. Here's hoping you have a safe and prosperous New Year.
Seek professional help.Working with a financial planner can help you identify your life goals and a roadmap to reach them. A comprehensive financial plan takes a holistic look at your income and assets, and relates it to these goals.
The Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards Inc. has a wealth of consumer-friendly information, including the publication "How to choose a financial planner."
Bankrate's "Financial planners: Not just for millionaires anymore" gives additional financial planning and money tips.
Rebalance your portfolio.The stock market, as measured by the S&P 500 Index, is up 25 percent for the year. That's compared with a loss of 37 percent in 2008. While it's true that the market would have to rise by 59 percent to recoup last year's loss, there's been enough upward momentum to suggest that you review your portfolio and determine whether you need to reallocate assets to bring your investments back in line with your risk tolerance and investment planning horizon.
Go international.The dollar is the focus on one of Bankrate's money tips because it likely will face some tough times in 2010. Getting some exposure to other currencies and economies can provide diversification against a potentially weaker dollar.
Whether it's by buying a FDIC-insured, foreign currency-denominated CDs at EverBank or investing in an emerging-market equity mutual fund, you should consider diversifying your portfolio internationally.
For most investors, this isn't a do-it-yourself project and they would benefit from working with a financial planner to decide on the best approach to adding international investments to their portfolio.
Lose interest in spending.Paying the credit card company 11.5 percent to 13.5 percent on credit balances has your hard-earned money paying interest instead of buying things you need. Make 2010 the year you get credit under control by paying down card balances.
Don't call it a budget, call it a spending plan. Figure out how you're going to spend your income. Try Bankrate's "Home Budget Calculator" or test-drive the free personal finance software at Mint.com.
List your assets.Consolidate your financial information -- insurance policies, retirement accounts and bank and brokerage accounts -- in one location. Whether it's a low-tech tool like a notebook with account and policy listings or a Web-based solution like WeRemember.org, let family members grieve instead of being aggrieved in chasing down a loved one's assets.
The Federal Citizen Information Center's publication "Consumer Focus: Managing Household Records" explains what to keep records, where to keep them and when you don't need them anymore.
Manage your credit history.The consumer reporting agencies have to give you one free credit report each year. Spread the requests out over the year so you're reviewing a credit report every four months. You could request Experian's report in January, Equifax's in May and TransUnion's in September.
The FTC's Free Reports Web page has a link to the AnnualCreditReport.com site where you can request your credit report.
Dispute any incorrect information on your credit report and consider freezing your credit reports to protect against identity theft.