Get Your Financial Life in Order for 2012


Every year brings the same thing: Resolutions that were made to be broken! Yet in today’s economic climate, we can no longer afford to break our financial resolves.

More than ever, we need to be proactive and move our household to a higher and safer playing field. So what can we do?

Here are 7 easy ways to make 2012 a true stepping stone on the path to financial independence and to help you secure a brighter future.

1. Commit to maxing out your TSP, 401(K) or any other retirement plan your employer may offer in 2012. If you do not have an employer-sponsored plan, open up and max out your contributions to an IRA. Even if you can’t max out, be consistent -- put something in this important bucket.

2. If you have equity available in your home, re-finance now! Economists predict we will never have these low rates again. See your banker or mortgage broker today.

[Consumer Resource: The better your credit, the lower your credit card interest rate should be. Learn where you stand and get matched to more affordable credit cards with's Free Credit Report Card.]

3. Put cash in the bank! I know the interest rates are bad compared to historical rates, but 0.15 percent is better than 0 percent. It also provides for liquidity of assets in case of an emergency.

4. If you have an investment portfolio, meet with your financial adviser now, not when you “get around to it.” If you do not have a financial adviser, hire one. Interview, ask the right questions and get referrals from friends and neighbors. No matter what your net worth, EVERYONE DESERVES a financial adviser.

[Article: The Debt Diva: Expecting the Unexpected]

5. If you have children, open up and contribute to your child’s 529 education fund. If you already have an established plan, contribute regularly. Again, it is not how much that counts, but how often. Utilize your state’s 529 sponsored-plan to gain tax benefits on your state income taxes, where applicable.

6. Gather your tax information together now and file as soon as possible, especially if you are to receive a refund. No offense against your local franchised tax preparer; however, always look for a seasoned professional, preferably a CPA. Remember, you get what you pay for.

7. Review your insurance needs -- property and casualty, life, health, disability and long-term care. Acquire what you need, and do not hesitate to pay premiums for insurance policies, otherwise Numbers 1-6 can fall down and wreak havoc on your financial health. Mitigate your risk and you will never regret it!

[Featured Products: Research and compare Identity theft protection plans at]

--- provides readers with unique insight, helpful tips and straight answers about their financial world. Our team of reporters and experts explore credit, loans, debt, saving, and identity theft topics, all designed to help you make smarter financial decisions. Visit to sign up for your FREE Credit Report Card and find out where you stand today!


Philip Cioppa Managing Principal and Chief Investment Officer of Arbol Financial Strategies, LLC, Arbol Financial Strategies, LLC (Securities offered through LPL Financial, Member FINRA/SIPC), Phil has more than 10 years of financial service experience and specializes in asset management strategies, insurance planning and taxation issues.

Show Full Article