These days you’re probably thinking about the beach, the mountains, or a road trip with the family. But summer, when life may be a little slower and your mind a little less cluttered, is actually a good time to do a quick midyear financial reality check.

A midyear checkup can accomplish several things. You can stop and think about your financial goals, such as saving for retirement, a house, a child’s education, or a financial cushion, and then make sure that you are investing appropriately for those goals. And while you are looking at your accounts, take care of “housekeeping” items too, like checking beneficiaries, which isn’t complicated but can have serious consequences if neglected.

Here are 5 things to do in a midyear review:

  1. Review your financial goals
  2. Check your investemnets
  3. Get a tax break
  4. Protect what’s yours
  5. Review important paperwork

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Fidelity Viewpoints

Waiting until just before April 15 to start thinking about your taxes may prove to be a costly mistake. Advance tax planning is especially important if your circumstances have changed over the past year due to events such as marriage, divorce, the birth of a child, or the death of a family member.

Deferring income into the next tax year and accelerating deductions into the current year can reduce your adjusted gross income (AGI). Lowering your AGI could make you eligible for certain tax breaks that phase out at higher income levels, such as personal exemptions and education credits. Now that the tax reform has passed, here are some strategies that may help you trim your tax bill:

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It’s been a busy year in Washington D.C. with a mixed view on accomplishments. Next on the agenda, Congress is beginning its shift (for the time being) to tax reform; lower taxes are expected to create improvements in the economy by increasing the rate of money flow (how fast it changes hands). On the surface, tax-reform has a good vibe and theoretically puts more money in consumer’s pockets. Granted, personal consumption expenditures represent 70 percent of gross domestic product, but journalists should know from Econ 101 that GDP only measures the value of final output. It deliberately leaves out a big chunk of the economy—intermediate production or goods-in-process at the commodity, manufacturing, and wholesale stages—to avoid double counting. We calculated total spending (sales or receipts) in the economy at all stages to be more than double GDP (using gross business receipts compiled annually by the IRS). By this measure—which we have dubbed gross domestic expenditures, or GDE—consumption represents only about 30 percent of the economy, while business investment (including intermediate output) represents over 50 percent.

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There are many benefits to marriage, but one you may not yet have considered is the flexibility married couples enjoy when deciding how and when to claim Social Security. Even though the basic rules apply to everyone, a couple has more options than a single person because each member of a couple1 can claim at different dates, and may be eligible for spousal benefits.

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Fidelity Viewpoints

For much of the last decade, inflation has been low by historical standards. But, recently, wage growth and higher prices have sent signs that inflation may be making a comeback, serving as a reminder of the risks that come when the buying power of a dollar falls. Such risks always exist, even when they don’t seem so obvious.For much of the last decade, inflation has been low by historical standards. But, recently, wage growth and higher prices have sent signs that inflation may be making a comeback, serving as a reminder of the risks that come when the buying power of a dollar falls. Such risks always exist, even when they don’t seem so obvious.

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Fidelity Viewpoints

A recent Fidelity nationwide survey finds 74% of investors think which party controls the government has an impact on the stock market—but perhaps not the way you think. A slim 14% believe whoever sits in the Oval Office has the biggest impact, 28% say control of Congress is key, 33% say it’s a combination, while 26% say political control has no impact at all.

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Fidelity Viewpoints

You saved for years to get to retirement—contributing to a traditional 401(k) or IRA. Now it’s time to dip into those savings—even if you don’t really need to. Because you got a tax break when you contributed to these accounts, once you turn age 70½ the IRS requires you to withdraw every year from your traditional IRA or employer-sponsored retirement plan account, such as a 401(k) or 403(b), and start paying taxes on that money.1 It’s important to determine how these minimum required distributions—known as MRDs or RMDs (required minimum distributions)—fit into your retirement income plan.

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Fidelity Viewpoints

You’ve likely spent a good deal of time thinking about investment risk. But have you stopped to think about more personal security issues, such as the safety of your online financial transactions and information stored on your computers? While most people recognize that online fraud or cybercrime is a potential threat, few know how or why they may be at risk. Cybercrime can take many forms, and understanding who the enemies are and how they commit crimes, may allow you to better defend yourself.

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Fidelity Viewpoints

 

Four experts share timely strategies for slow growth, market volatility, and rate changes.

Over the last year, the stock market has basically gone nowhere—the S&P 500® Index was down about 1%. But that doesn’t mean it has been a smooth ride—along the way, the market has experienced two frightful drops of more than 10%, periods of optimism, and shifts in expectations for everything from Treasury bonds to oil prices.

But what’s next? And how can you prepare? Might there be new bouts of volatility, perhaps precipitated by Brexit, the U.S. elections, another Fed rate hike, or some unanticipated risk? Or might positive economic progress in the United States, new central bank action, or a recovery in earnings allow markets—or parts of them—to climb higher?

 

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Fidelity Viewpoints