Clean your financial house for the new year

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Out with the old, in with the new. No matter whether you apply the expression to changes in attitude or to life adjustments, the end of the year is a great time to assess your household finances and prepare for new opportunities. Here are suggestions.

 
Review your credit report. Request a free copy of your credit report from each of the three major credit bureaus. If the reports contain errors, get them corrected.

 
Make or update your home inventory. Go through your house and make a video describing what you see, along with information such as purchase dates, prices, and estimated values. Your home inventory can be vital for getting insurance claims approved in case of disaster.

 
Calculate your net worth. Your net worth is the value of your assets, including your house, personal property, bank accounts, car, and investments, minus liabilities such as your mortgage, credit card balances, and loans. This is a great yardstick for measuring your household’s financial growth (or shrinkage) from year to year.
Increase your savings. If you get a year-end raise, consider contributing a portion of the extra money to your 401(k) plan or other savings account.

 
Purge financial records. If you’re a financial packrat with stacks of old cancelled checks and bank statements that are no longer needed for an IRS audit or your own use, shred them.

 
Need help? Contact our office.

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Can your business survive these seven scary disasters?

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Disasters, natural or otherwise, could ultimately lead to your company’s demise. Fortunately, advance planning can keep you on track. Here are seven scenarios to be prepared for.

 
1. A natural disaster. To paraphrase the old saying, you can talk about the weather, but there’s not much you can do about it – except have a plan in place in the event a natural disaster damages your business premises. Two tips: Maintain adequate insurance and store valuable business data at a secure off-location site.

 
2. A key employee quits. Cross-training can avoid business interruptions if a key employee leaves unexpectedly. You might also want to consider asking key employees to sign a reasonable non-compete agreement to protect confidential information. Typically, these agreements prohibit an employee from working for a competitor for a certain period.

 
3. An employee embezzles company funds. To safeguard your business assets, divide responsibilities so one person doesn’t have complete control over the books. Set up a system of checks and balances.

 
4. Your biggest customer leaves. To keep your business from going under, update your marketing plan, stay in touch with former customers, establish an emergency budget, and diversify your revenue stream.

 
5. You become disabled. “Key-person” disability insurance can provide funding to keep your business afloat. The policy may also cover employees who are vital to operations.

 
6. Your company or partnership splits up. Draft a buy-sell agreement to ensure a smooth transition due to the sale of a business interest, including a forced sale on the death of one of your shareholders or partners. The agreement can establish the terms of a buy-out and set a value for the respective business interests.

 
7. Your computer system crashes. Extra hardware, such as tablets or laptops, regular off-site backups, and cloud storage for important documents can avoid a crisis when your computer fails.