As the New Year approaches, it’s time to reflect

This was originally published on Monday,December 9, 2013, in the Pacific Daily News.  Click here to subscribe to the PDN.

As the holidays are upon us and another calendar year will soon pass, it is time to start evaluating your investments and overall financial goals.

Did you meet your 2013 financial resolution goals? Are there areas you wish to improve on? Evaluating your successes and detecting areas you need to work harder on will help you set goals for 2014.

Here are a few things you may want to review:

Retirement assets. Is your risk assessment and time horizon in line with where they need to be? Whether you are about to retire or long way off, you need to make adjustments periodically.

Review your contributions; are you putting all you can into your 401(k)? If your company matches your contributions, are you at least putting that much in? There is no better way to double your money. If you are not maximizing your contributions, can you afford to put more in next year?

Switching your traditional IRA to a Roth IRA may be something you would like to consider. A Roth IRA has some benefits such as the potential to grow tax-free. Review your beneficiaries’ information, especially if there has been a major life event in the past year such as birth, death, marriage or divorce. If you are not investing for your retirement, it is never too late to start.

Income taxes. Whether we want to face it or not, April 15 is only four months away. Start getting organized now. Look for those past paystubs, receipts and other supporting documents. It is not too late to make adjustments to minimize your tax bill.

If you’ve made energy-efficient renovations to your home or added energy-efficient appliances, had uninsured medical expenses, opened a Health Savings Account or funded college expenses for your child or grandchild, visit the Internal Revenue Service website,, for possible deductions or credits.

Don’t forget to keep record of charitable contributions, especially this time of the year.

If you had an increase in income this year, be prepared for the possibility of paying more; now is the time to start saving.

Visiting a tax preparer and discussing your situation can prepare you for what is ahead.

Car insurance. Check your policy to see if all your drivers are covered, especially if you are adding a new teenage driver.

Check that your vehicle information is correct. If you paid off your vehicle or your vehicle is getting on in years, talk to your agent about downsizing your policy.

If you had to process a claim this year, make sure that your paperwork has been properly filled and all payments have been made. If your income has changed, you may want to make adjustments to your policy as well. You may also consider shopping for a new policy that can save you money.

Home insurance. If you extended or made renovations to your home, you will need to update your home insurance to reflect those changes.

Reevaluate your belongings to check if your coverage properly covers the contents of your home.

If you moved or are planning to move, change your insurance to cover your new home.

Michael Camacho is president and chief executive officer of Personal Finance Center. He has more than 20 years of experience in retail banking and at financial institutions in Guam and Hawaii. If there is a topic you’d like Michael to cover, please email him at and read past columns at the Money Matters blog at


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