Cliff Ahead

6 Nov

With the looming potential of a much-discussed “fiscal cliff” set to impact the nation in 2013, there are a number of issues that investors need to be thinking about with regard to getting their financial affairs in order (absent a last-minute political compromise). Recently I had an opportunity to write a piece for the Delaware County Times about how to do exactly that. Here are my top tips:

  • Don’t wait until after the election to take action. Make sure to take advantage of opportunities right now, in 2012. The potential lowering of the estate tax ceiling means that families might want to look for ways to gift or distribute assets before the end of the year.
  • Proceed with caution. Don’t play fast and lose in the stock market, and be aware that just the potential for a fiscal cliff could introduce uncertainty and volatility into the marketplace. Economic instability overseas only exacerbates that uncertainty. This is the wrong time to place your faith in high-risk investments, particularly if you are approaching retirement.
  • Re-evaluate real estate choices. While there are signs of a recovery, the housing market is far from where it needs to be. For many families, particularly those nearing retirement, it means thinking strategically about where and how to spend their golden years.
  • Fact-check pensions and Social Security. The last few years have made it clear that nothing is certain any more. Company pensions are not beyond the reach of bankruptcy lawyers, and even Social Security’s future has been called into question. In a time of uncertainty, and securing your future by planning smart, low-risk financial moves is a great way to hedge your bets. Index annuities, for example, have become more appealing alternatives as these traditional pillars of retirement have become less reliable.
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