One positive thing about tax season: it forces you to look at all the nooks and crannies of your financial life. It’s likely you’ve stumbled on some cracks that need filling or a missed opportunity you can now make good on. To help you sort out your portfolios, Dr. Richard Peterson, a psychiatrist and investment advisor with the firm MarketPsych, offers some tips.
“The funny thing about tax season is it gives us the chance to go over the past year and see where the leakage was in our portfolio, in our finances and see where things are going well, where they are not going well,” says Peterson.
With our savings, Peterson says ideally we should save a percentage of our income to put away in our emergency fund. The reality is, most people are using savings to pay off credit card debt.
“There’s the reality of should you maximize your 401(k) and at the same time be paying off your credit cards — and of course not. We should pay off that credit card,” says Peterson. “It’s got to start little step by little step. If you’re running behind on saving money, the only way to catch up is to take one controllable, small action. Increase your saving by 1 percent this month, something along those lines.”
Peterson says when doing taxes and focusing on details, it’s stressful for most people. But, that might be a good thing.
“The funny thing about stress is it makes us detail oriented,” says Peterson. “Negativaty actually makes our minds clearer about exactly what’s happening. It makes us easier to focus on the details. So in terms of tax season being a good time to lay out long-term plans, it generally is because we’re more realistic. We have to deal with the real numbers and we’re able to focus on those details like no other time.”