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January…The Beginning or the End of the Year?

Born and raised in New York, New Year's Eve was always a big deal. My family was in the kosher deli business, and New Year's meant days of preparation and work getting ready for everyone else's party. We'd work all through the night before catching a few ZZZZ's stretched out across a few dining room tables. I watched in wonder at my father going 3 days straight- I always tried, but just couldn't do it. In the back of my mind, I always wondered what the big deal was.

Now, as an adult (I hate to admit it) the opinion seems split as to what we are celebrating... the end of 2018 or the beginning of 2019. The view of the past year is different as a grown-up, usually measured by how the past year was with regard to work, health, relationships and money. Perhaps it's me, but I seem to hear some version of "I'm just happy to see this past year go" than Yay... Happy New Year!" Has life gotten so tough for the bulk of the populace that we spend so much time ruminating about the bad year passed? I propose to you to spend some time really looking at the past year, and the wonderful things it held along with the depths of despair: we all had good times, as short or abbreviated as they may have felt. Somehow, we humans seem to focus on the negative instead of the positive. Give it a try- I dare you to get a pen and paper and list 10 things that were positive in 2018... I dare you...

So, here we are in 2019. Let's let go and focus on the good we have to look forward to. There are a few thing you can do to make it better right out of the gate. First, let's talk taxes: it's not really a big deal. There are some people I speak with that get frozen from January right through April 15th. Don't be- just do it and get it done. It really shouldn't take you more than a few days of information gathering... easier if you have a method. You've done it dozens of times: just get it done and finished with. Taxes are a year-long project, and you should be preparing from January on, to maximize your allowable deduction and to plan the best course of action with your trusted tax advisor. Next- when was the last time you looked at your retirement fund investment allocation? Like taxes, this is should not be a once a year event- at least look at it quarterly. If you don't have the expertise, make sure to find someone who does. The markets are in a very precarious time now, with world events causing major fluctuations across the globe. While my crystal ball seems to be out of order, just reading the news and paying attention to the world around you can give you great insight into the direction of the markets- keep your eyes open and your ear to the ground. While we are at it, when is the last time you reviewed your will and legal documents? Do you have a will? My experience is that 2 out of 5 people that I meet with initially don't- don't be among that statistic... get it done... for the sake of your family.

I have a habit of using January to review all of our family and company bills, to see what I may be paying for and not using, or to make adjustments. Check your credit card statements, line by line. Scammers make millions by putting a charge on your bill for a few bucks... it adds up. For them, it's very profitable. Question each and every line item to make sure it's yours. Remember to clean out your closet and donate, donate and donate more. Why have that 20 year old coat laying in your closet when there are people out there who don't have one? We need to help each other out... there's nothing like looking at a newly cleaned out closed... so cleansing! Use the New Year to start afresh- don't let a good opportunity get away!

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