Ah, the New Year. For many, it’s a time to look ahead and make plans for living better in the months and years ahead.

It’s also an excellent time for your clients to take a sober look at what they can do to protect their money going forward into 2013.

Forty-six percent of consumers are considering making financial resolutions for 2013, up 31 percent from 2009, according to a recent article in Business News Daily, (http://tinyurl.com/cqz667o). And survey respondents acknowledge that keeping their financial commitments is harder than other resolutions.

The old standbys

The top three resolutions should be familiar: spend less, save more and pay down debt. But your clients can’t accomplish those goals by simply making a resolution.

Before everything else, your clients should track their spending habits, says WABI TV5 financial advisor Marion R. Syversen. (http://tinyurl.com/c3mzhgb) Figure out how much they spend on their hobbies or other pursuits in total dollars and as a percentage of their income. Then you — and they — can make informed decisions.

Once they know where there money is going, it’s time to set their goals — short term and long term. Where do they want to be financially at the end of 2013 and by the time they’re ready for retirement? Having a clear picture of what their destination is leads to the next step.

Putting words into practice

When their goals are set, your clients need to develop a plan. Decide what debt they will pay down first, how much will they save and where that money will go. Check their 401(k) plans and other retirement savings, and see how much insurance they have — life, health and any other plans in their portfolio.

It’s a good idea to check your clients’ credit scores, Syversen said. If your clients have excellent credit, their plans will be much easier to put into action. If their credit is less than sterling, repairing that — through paying down debt and being fiscally conservative — should be their first goal. After that, they can set about meeting other goals.

Prepare for tax season now

I’m big on check lists. They work. And the Wall Street Journal has a great to-do list concerning 2013 tax preparations that you can share with clients, especially business owners (http://tinyurl.com/ay6agpf). The article covers everything from setting up files to updating documents and sending out W-2s. It also suggests five tax resolutions (a timely subject) for 2013.

Whether your clients are financially modest or at the top of the income tax bracket, turning the calendar from 2012 to 2013 is a perfect time to take stock of their finances — and make a resolution to make them the best they can be.

We hope this information was useful to you and your clients. If you have a specific case or a question, don’t hesitate to call our office.

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