Check your tax status, financial goals halfway through 2014

This was originally published on Monday,August 25, 2014, in the Pacific Daily News.  Click here to subscribe to the PDN.

Believe it or not we are past the mid-year mark. It is hard to believe that 2014 is closer to being over than it is to the beginning. At the start of every year I write about setting personal financial goals. We are almost through the year, so it is time to review how well you are reaching those goals.

Sometimes we get caught up in the hustle and bustle of life and forget to modify financial issues that can change when our personal circumstances change. Think about what has happened during the first half of the year. Think about what is coming up for the last half of the year.

Have you had any life-altering events? Did you get married or divorced? Is there a new member of your family, or did one graduate and go off to college? Did you have a career change or a promotion? The answer to some of these questions will affect your taxes, wills, power of attorneys, your retirement fund and even your budget.

April has come and gone and we really don’t like having to think about taxes so soon. Now is the best time to start looking at how your taxes are performing. Take a look at your 2013 income taxes and compare them to your current income tax withholdings. You can find how much taxes have been withheld by looking at your current pay check stub or leave earning statements.

If you ended up paying the government last year, you may want to adjust your W-4 allowances so that you have more of your income withheld. On the other hand, if you received a rather large income tax refund, you may want to adjust your W-4 allowances to lessen the amount of income held. Talk to your employer about completing a new W-4. Doing this now instead of waiting till the end of the year could prevent a costly surprise, especially if you have to pay taxes.

Now is a good time to start looking for those receipts you need to file for next year; the holidays will soon be on us and our time will not be as free.

Review your portfolio; is it on track to meet your year-end goals? Contact your financial advisor and see if there are any changes that can be done if your portfolio is not performing up to par.

Are you saving to put a down payment on a house, to buy a new car, or to go on a vacation next year? Take a look at how close you are to that goal. If you need to boost your savings, now is the perfect time to add a little more before the holidays start.

If you have had a major life change, review your will or trust and power of attorney. You may need to revise them if a family member passed away, you went through a divorce, or had a new addition to your family.

Don’t forget to look at your budget; have you been staying on track? Review your spending over the last six months. What area of your budget needs to be worked on? How can you cut back on those expenses?

If you received a pay increase or a promotion, you can use that surplus money in several ways. You can use it to pay down debt. Even if it is a small increase, it will make a big difference and could save hundreds or thousands of dollars. You could also use the surplus money toward your emergency fund or to increase your contributions to your retirement fund.

Don’t be discouraged that you are behind on your yearly goals. You still have time to get back on track. If your goals seem too far out of reach, consider revising your goals and stretching it out over a longer period of time.

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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