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8 financial spring cleaning tips to help set your clients up for success

April 06, 2022
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Key Takeaways:

  • Spring is not only a great time for getting our houses in order, but also for taking a look at our clients’ finances and reevaluating our priorities
  • There are many ways we can begin to improve our financial goals which include: Updating or creating a budget, evaluating our subscription services, building an emergency fund, saving for retirement, getting or updating a life insurance plan, evaluating your tax withholdings, and discussing estate planning or wealth transfer options
  • The possibilities here are endless and the ideas in this article can be used as client conversation starters to help build your relationships and grow your business

Spring is officially here. Known as a time for growth and reorganization, it’s also a time many of us look forward to “spring cleaning” and getting our houses in order. But it can also be a great time to make sure your clients’ finances are in order as well. If you decide to take this opportunity to speak with your clients about their financial spring cleaning, here are some tips on how to help them stay on track with their financial goals. And, much like many of our own neglected gardens and landscaping, it can also be a great time to remind them of some financial goals they may have been neglecting or have been meaning to get started on.

Check out our 8 tips below on conversation starters you can have with your clients during this time of growth and renewal.

Update or create a budget

Budgeting is an important step in helping your clients manage their money to help ensure they are controlling their debts and have money available to invest. Sticking to a budget can help your clients save a little bit each month and build up their savings. It’s also a good way to visualize how much they are spending each month on expenses such as dining out, entertainment, groceries, and more. By keeping track of these common expenses, they can work to cut back and be more conscious about spending habits.

To get started, take advantage of our Spending Plan and Monthly Expense Tracking worksheets.

Get rid of unnecessary or unused subscriptions

Speaking of common expenses, this is a perfect time for your clients to evaluate their monthly or yearly subscriptions. Have them take the time to write out or otherwise identify all the subscriptions: the gym, Netflix, Amazon, any technology apps, and more. They may be surprised at how many subscriptions they are paying for that they rarely or never use. All of these costs add up monthly and may better be used in a savings account or investment account. Encourage them to think critically about which subscriptions they actually need and do some subscription spring cleaning, if needed.

Build Your Emergency Fund

Unexpected expenses can come at any time. Whether a job loss, health care expense, necessary home repair, or even a pandemic such as COVID-19, emergencies often come out of nowhere and can lead to financial stress. Having an emergency fund set aside for these types of situations could greatly take the stress out of a time when the last thing your client wants to be thinking about is how are they’ll afford day-to-day expenses.

Most experts recommend three to six months of savings1 to cover living expenses but having up to a year would be ideal. As a financial professional, you can help your clients figure out what is best for them in dealing with debts and investments.

Save for Retirement

Once your clients have their basic finances in order, you can begin to talk to them about their plans on saving for retirement and different investment opportunities.

Increase 401(k) Investments

Being involved in an employer’s 401(k) plan is one of the easiest ways your clients can get started on reaching their retirement goals. A lot of companies offer a dollar-for-dollar match up to a certain percentage, so this is another way for your clients to get additional money put towards their retirement plan. Another benefit of a traditional 401(k) is that the contributions are tax-deferred, so they are not taxed on the money until they take it out. At that point, they could be in a lower tax bracket as well.

Take a look at our paycheck impact tool to see how this can affect your clients. If your clients are looking to leave their job and are curious how that impacts their 401(k) or retirement plans, we have some insights on how to deal with those conversations as well.

Utilize an HSA account

HSAs are a popular tool to help your clients save for healthcare in retirement. They can also provide potential tax benefits as well. Health Savings Accounts reduce the need to use personal savings on health care costs in retirement, allowing your clients to have confidence in how they will pay for future medical bills.

For additional FAQs on how to utilize a client’s HSA for tax benefit purposes, view our article here.

Make a plan for Social Security

While nobody knows how long they will live, your clients may want to consider planning for Social Security now, so they can plan it into their overall retirement mix. Nationwide’s Social Security 360 Analyzer® allows you to utilize different scenarios to help with Social Security planning.

Diversify your retirement income

It is likely your clients will not rely solely on Social Security income in retirement and will want to consider a diverse portfolio of retirement income, such as their 401(k), Roth IRA, or a variety of other investment opportunities. Since market conditions change over time, their investments can have varying degrees of return. By diversifying their retirement income sources, you can help your clients limit their financial risk and be better set up for retirement.

Consider getting or updating a life insurance plan

Now may be a good time to consider a life insurance policy with your client. The COVID-19 pandemic showed us that unexpected situations can arise at any time. There are many benefits to having life insurance, even if your clients don’t have any kids or dependents relying on them. Learn more about our life insurance options here.

Check in on Financial goals

A great conversation starter during this time of Spring cleaning is to check in on where your clients are with regards to their financial goals. This could involve checking in on their credit card debt, having them check their credit score to make sure they’re where they want to be, helping ensure they’re on track for retirement, and so much more.

Leading with empathy can help you build trust with your clients and allow you to better your relationship with them.

Evaluate your tax withholdings

With tax season being here, it is the perfect time to review how much money your clients have been withholding from each paycheck. While a big refund check sounds nice in theory, it can often mean that your clients have been lending the government their money interest-free. Learn more here, as well as some other tax tips you can talk about with your clients.

Discuss estate planning and wealth transfer options

Now that you’ve discussed retirement and investing options with your clients, the next step may be to discuss estate planning opportunities and how they can pass their assets on. Legacy planning is extremely important and gives you another opportunity to demonstrate empathy and win your client’s trust. It is never too early to start talking about your client’s legacy plan, and how they are going to pass on their wealth to their beneficiaries. This also allows you to work with their families and build additional relationships there.

Check out all our estate and legacy planning resources here.

Begin talking with your clients on these important financial spring cleaning opportunities today

While we have listed several examples above on how you can help your clients get organized and reevaluate their priorities, the possibilities are truly endless. These conversations are invaluable and will hopefully help you grow your business and strengthen your client relationships.

Sources and Disclaimer

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  • Investing involves market risk, including possible loss of principal, and there is no guarantee that investment objectives will be achieved.

    Diversification does not assure a profit or protect against a loss in a down market.

    Federal income tax laws are complex and subject to change. This information is general in nature and is not intended to be tax, legal, accounting or other professional advice.

    Nationwide and its representatives do not give legal or tax advice. An attorney or tax advisor should be consulted for answers to specific questions.

    Social Security 360 Analyzer is a service mark of Nationwide Life Insurance Company.