Monday, November 3, 2014

When the elections are over, will anything change?

Election day is finally on our doorstep. I sincerely hope, as you enter the voting booth, that you don’t make your election choices based on the 30-second commercials that have taken over the airwaves.

They are misleading at best. And while I hesitate to say that some of them are intentionally so, I can say with certainty that some of them are contradictory.

That being said, I know how difficult it is to get your arms around certain complex issues when things are going at full speed in your personal life. In many instances, even if you know your stance on specific issues that are near and dear to your heart, it’s difficult to determine exactly where political candidates stand. After all the annoying and half-truth commercials, at the end of election day, some of you will be thrilled with the results and others will be disappointed. I kiddingly state that I’ve been voting for so long, I can remember elections where the final results didn’t require the intervention of attorneys to determine a legitimate outcome.

In the financial world, I’ve always cautioned investors not to become overly euphoric when their investments were making rapid gains. Conversely, I’ve urged them not to become too distraught when their bottom line took a downward turn.

In other words, it’s a good idea to stay calm and collected regardless of the direction of your fortunes.

And that’s exactly how I feel about election results. I don’t believe any one loss or victory by a particular candidate will suddenly alter the long-term financial planning objective of any household.

When the election dust settles and reality sets in, everyone is still going to be paying taxes. Young families will still need to save and invest for college and retirement. Empty nesters will still need to plan for a rapidly approaching retirement. And those already retired will continue to fret over the increasing costs of living.

Regardless of who wins or what propositions are passed, post-election is the time to make year-end financial adjustments.

For example, if you have a high-deductible health insurance program, you should consider making a contribution into a Health Savings Account. If you participate in either a 401(k) or 403(b) account, you should at the very minimum make certain you’re contributing enough to receive any employer match.

If you received a pay increase during the year, you should consider increasing the amount of your contribution for the balance of the year. Keep in mind that there are special provisions to encourage contributions for those over the age of fifty. If you’re over fifty, you should definitely take advantage of those provisions.

If there’s no company program, you can still take the initiative to open an Individual Retirement Account. Because they can be somewhat confusing, in that there are both tax deductible and non-deductible programs, I suggest you consult your attorney or financial planner.

In the short term, investors need to move quickly to put any finishing touches on year-end strategies. Long term, no matter who is elected, it’s not the responsibility of Lansing or Washington, D.C. to make or break your financial goals.

In spite of all the political promises, your financial success or ultimate failure is not decided in the ballot box. It’s up to you.

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