Beginning in 2014, many of you probably read my blog regarding having a checkup for you and, if you have one, your business. This does not involve the doctor, but it does involve all the other professionals in your personal and business life. Based on the positive feedback, I have made this an annual tradition.
Some of you said “What a great idea. I am definitely going to do that.” Others said “Sounds like a good idea, maybe I will look into that.” Another response was “I wish I had thought about this before the end of the year or when certain contracts automatically renewed.
That feedback was based on me usually making this post the week between Christmas and New Year’s, when many people have time and are thinking about actions they want to take going into the next year. This is why I now share this a few weeks prior to the end of the year to give you time to take action and look into possible changes before the end of the year.
I’ll bet in most years the majority of you were busy with or recovering from the holidays and all that they entail, and probably did nothing in response to my push for you to do this type of “annual checkup.” To be honest, this response is okay and ignoring my advice may not have had detrimental effects to you or your business.
The point of the advice is that you only know what you know. If you do not check in with your professionals and, for example, make sure contracts or your estate plan remain enforceable and up-to-date, that is where risk comes in. For example, I always check in with my accountant at the end of the year to ensure that all is right with taxes and withholding because I don’t want a big surprise that I owe more money.
A few years ago I had a reminder related to a different item you should check on annually, auto insurance. We had two teenagers on our policy at the time and a number of vehicles, and the premiums always seemed so high to me. But my insurance person knows me and shops the policy every year looking for the best rates rates for policies with similar coverage from quality insurers. He did that for me and we ended up with a new insurer, with pretty significant savings.
Does your insurance person do this? If not, why not? You should ask. Or you should switch to a new insurance person who cares as much about you as they do about the commissions and income you represent to them.
With the time constraints of life, it’s sometimes hard for me to move beyond the higher-level checkup, but when I do I usually end up with some benefit. Unfortunately, in our time-crunched world, the question of who to check in with at year end is expansive, from your estate planning attorney, to your investment person, to your insurance person, to vendors you may use such as a yard or pool maintenance company, or your cell phone carrier or your Internet provider. You may be surprised what a company will do in lowering monthly costs to satisfy or keep a current or longtime customer. Try it and see what happens. A good one to start with is your cable or satellite television provider (assuming you haven’t cut the cable). Another is your cell phone provider.
I know, I know, who has the time? None of us do, which is why the choices are yours. Are your contracts up to date? Did you pay enough estimated taxes or withholding? Are you paying too much for the cleaning service at your office or your lawn service for your home ? The choice of what professionals to consult, what costs to check or compare, and what services to put out to bid is yours. Choose wisely.
And for those of you seeking a reminder or who did not see it in years past, here is my original blog post on getting an annual checkup:
The end of the year is always a good time to take stock of where you are personally and professionally. This can be checking in with your personal accountant to make sure you have withheld/paid enough taxes during the year or planning for deductions to planning for large corporate expenditures on things such as upcoming projects, planned corporate initiatives or planned equipment purchases. But the one thing that is a constant is that we all should be doing this.
In the past I have mentioned why it is good to sit down with various professionals you or your company work with just to check-in, be they attorneys, accountants, insurance professionals, financial planners, investment professionals, etc. The list depends on you and your business.
This does not have to be a formal appointment unless you think that is appropriate depending on the nature of the planned conversation. Instead, it can be you offering to buy them lunch or a drink. The point is the better the professionals you work with know you, the more they are able to make recommendations aimed to benefit you or your company.
So don’t wait, start making plans today to meet with these people this year, or at least first thing next year. We all are busy this time of year, but if you take these actions it will help you now and in the future.