5 ways to get a jump on your 2015 finances

Now is a great time to start planning for the year ahead. These five tips can help you make the most of your spending and saving in 2015.

1. Rethink your spending with the economy in mind.

Economists generally believe that inflation promises to stay low in 2015, and interest rates likely won’t rise until spring, if then. That means getting a mortgage or auto loan may remain affordable, and you shouldn’t see a huge bump in daily expenses.

Take a look at the short-, medium- and long-term spending goals you’ve outlined in the past. You may find some of your medium- and long-term goals have moved into a shorter time frame with the passing of another year. If a major purchase, such as a home renovation or a new car, is on your agenda, you may want to take advantage of the continuing low interest rate environment.

That said, prioritizing spending with an eye toward retirement savings remains a must. Since low inflation often means your expenditures stay the same, consider putting any extra income, such as a raise or bonus, into retirement savings. You likely won’t need the extra money to cover your current expenses while the extra boost in savings can grow significantly over time.

2. Revisit your investment portfolio.

A lot can happen in the markets in a year. Use this time to sit down with your advisor and review the performance of your retirement and other investment portfolios. During that process, you may find you need to rebalance your portfolio to adjust for the gains and losses you incurred during the last year. Big swings in either direction may mean your asset allocation — the mix in your investments between various classes of stocks, bonds and cash — has shifted and may no longer reflect your investing goals. Rebalancing may help set things right.

In addition, a close look at your investments can also prompt you to reevaluate how much risk you’re willing to take. Your goals and the markets may have changed during the year, causing your risk tolerance to shift as well.

3. Prepare for any changes in your family life.

Is there anything going on with your loved ones that may take special planning this year? Perhaps your parents are moving to senior housing or in need of extra support — financial and otherwise. Are your kids headed to college, graduating or buying a first home? Any big changes can mean a change in expenses for you. You’ll need to make sure you’ve accounted for those changes in your spending and savings plans.

4. Review your auto and home insurance policies.

Have your circumstances changed in ways that require you to update your home and auto insurance policies? If you’ve recently transitioned from an office job to working at home, you may need to adjust the liability coverage on your homeowner’s policy. By the same token, you may qualify for auto insurance discounts because you no longer commute to the office.

Even if your circumstances haven’t changed, reviewing and updating your policies may save you money through discounts or decreased premiums. Getting quotes from other insurance agents can help determine if you should make a change.

5. Put yourself first.

Make 2015 the year of your retirement planning. As you look toward the year ahead, make sure your retirement savings are high on the list of your financial priorities. Revisit with your advisor what you’ve determined you need to pursue a more confident retirement, then make any adjustments necessary now that the new year is on the way.

Are you contributing the maximum allowed to any employer-sponsored retirement accounts? Are you receiving the full match if one is available? Once you hit the max at work, you may also want to supplement your employer-sponsored plan with savings in a Roth or traditional IRA or even an after-tax investment account. Your advisor can help determine the best ways you can make the most of your retirement planning in the year ahead.

Now is a great time to start planning for the year ahead. These five tips can help you make the most of your spending and saving in 2015.