Financial Fitness Fall Checklist For Wealth Management


By Ascendant Financial Solutions, Inc.

Autumn is a time for change as the season reminds us of the importance of tying up loose ends. Don’t let the changing of the weather or falling leaves slow you down as nature begins to prepare for hibernation mode. 

To move forward with confidence, it’s time to let go of the things (or habits) that no longer serve you, in order to manifest a healthy retirement. 

Financial planning should not be one of your downfalls after using a checklist as a quick guide. This material will help you review the important things related to:

Getting your financial ducks in a row

  • Healthcare planning
  • Tax-loss harvesting
  • Education planning
  • Review beneficiaries 
  • Estate planning
  • Insurance planning
  • Credit check

Financially planning for the future ensures that all of your ducks are in a row before year’s end. This effort can help you avoid or reduce financial stress over the holidays.

Chapter 1

Plan Ahead For Medicare Open Enrollment

October 15 through December 7, Medicare open enrollment is a critical time to review your medical coverage and plan if it applies to you. This federally funded health insurance is for individuals 65 and older, some younger individuals with disabilities, and people with end-stage renal disease.

Do your homework before selecting a plan. It’s important to know that the different Medicare options cover specific areas of service, which can be confusing, so ask for help when adding Medicare coverage into your comprehensive financial plan.

  • Medicare Part A (Hospital Insurance): covers inpatient hospital stays, care in a skilled nursing facility, hospice care, and some home health care
  • Medicare Part B (Medical Insurance): covers certain doctors services, outpatient care, medical supplies, and preventive services
  • Medicare Part D (prescription drug coverage) Helps cover the cost of prescription drugs (including many recommended shots or vaccines).

You’ll need to decide how to get your Medicare coverage once you enroll: Original or Advantage. Ask us for help with health insurance planning in Phoenix to save money in the arena of your well-being.

Chapter 2

End Of Year Tax Planning And Tax Loss Harvesting

We hope you have been tax planning all year and that it’s become a healthy habit with the aid of a financial advisor in Flagstaff or Phoenix. Of course if you have not, it’s our job to help you steer clear of financial stress

Woman checking her financial fitness on her phone

Tax-loss harvesting, however, helps investors reduce their tax bills by offsetting what they must claim. Cutting your tax bill looks like this: 

Be sure to consult your financial advisor and tax professional to implement a strategy that works for your situation. End-of-year tax planning in Phoenix or Flagstaff should not feel stressful and confusing. Allow our team at Ascendant Financial Solutions to help you shift your mindset by proving the power of tax loss harvesting. 

The bottom line is that tax harvesting can help keep your portfolio in balance.

Chapter 3

Education Planning: What Are The Benefits Of A 529 Plan?

If the goal of obtaining a higher education is on the table for your children or grandchildren, consider getting a 529 plan. It allows you to save for their future college education, and the best part is that the funds in these accounts grow tax-free. Here are the many benefits of a 529 plan:

  1. Tax-free education growth: How convenient to stash funds on an after-tax basis and grow it tax-free in order to help your children get ahead in the world. That means you won’t pay taxes on the gains when you withdraw the money for qualified educational expenses. Avoid penalties by playing by the rules and using the money exclusively for approved items.
  2. Investment options offer potentially high returns: Depending on your state, you can invest in market-based investments or stock funds. You can potentially earn outsize returns on your contributions and hopefully beat the rising college costs. 
  3. Potential contribution tax breaks: You may be able to get a tax deduction on your state income taxes if you invest through a 529 plan. However, not all states offer a tax break on your contributions, so do your homework or ask for help with education planning in Phoenix
  4. Two 529 plan types: 1) An education savings plan allows you to open an investment account to be used for future education expenses. 2) A prepaid tuition plan lets you buy future college credits at current prices and are only available at participating schools. 
  5. The beneficiary can be changed: With flexibility, parents can change the 529 plan beneficiary if the originally designated child does not choose the college path. However, you can use the 529 plan for multiple children. You could even name yourself the beneficiary and obtain higher education! 
  6. 529 plans aren’t just for college: These funds can also be used for secondary schools or private primary. So, grades K-12 can qualify if the school is approved. 
  7. Use it to repay a student loan: You can use the 529 plan to pay off up to $10,000 in a beneficiary’s student loans plus up to $10,000 in student loans for beneficiary siblings.

Chapter 4

Review beneficiaries

Have you determined who will receive money from your estate when you pass? A beneficiary may receive any type of asset, such as cash in a savings account, property titles, stock in a company, etc. If there is more than one beneficiary for an account, the assets are distributed according to the terms of the will or trust document. 

A beneficiary form will allow you to designate who will receive proceeds from any life insurance policy if you die while it’s still active. You may also designate beneficiaries through a financial advisory team before transferring funds into an annuity contract with them. This information will later be used when distributing funds upon death or moving them into another financial product.

Chapter 5

Review estate plan

Reviewing your estate plan is vital to ensure your financial future is managed correctly. Knowing that you have a set of documents that allows you to provide for yourself and loved ones in the event you become incapacitated or if you pass unexpectedly can help you feel more at peace. This may include:

  • A will (also known as a last will and testament), states who gets what assets after your death
  • A living trust can help protect assets from being drained through probate courts upon death by allowing you to name beneficiaries for property held in trust
  • Advance directives (living wills, health care proxies), which give instructions on how you want to be treated medically if there are concerns about your ability to make decisions yourself

Many people go over their estate plan when they review their comprehensive financial plan. Discussing with your financial advisor for retirement planning in Phoenix can help you determine when this should be done: annually, semi-annually, or quarterly. The general recommendation for estate planning is at least every three to five years or when a life event can alter your plan.

Chapter 6

Review insurance

As a good rule of thumb, it helps to review your life, disability, and health insurance policies. This can help ensure that the coverage matches your needs as life changes. If not, make appropriate adjustments to ensure the correct coverage amounts. 

Personal life changes are a great reason to review and update your policies:

  • Starting a new job 
  • Starting a new business 
  • Getting divorced
  • Getting married 
  • Children leaving home
  • Starting a family/having a baby or adopting a child
  • Bringing parents into the home 
  • Purchasing or receipt of an expensive gift 
  • Death in your immediate family 
  • Paying off your mortgage

If you’re unsure of coverage amounts, we have professionals that offer health insurance planning in Phoenix. We are happy to go over the policies protecting your vehicles, home, family members, and other valuables. To review your insurance coverages, enlist the help of an experienced financial advisor in Phoenix or Flagstaff at AFS. 

Some policies can be combined into a single plan with more comprehensive benefits at a lower cost. Tapping into our expertise and knowledge could be a financial game-changer for you and your family. Let us know if this is something you need help with.

Chapter 7

Credit check

Credit is not something you want to learn the hard way. Whether you have a good or poor credit score, checking your credit report (a record of your credit history) can help you know where you stand with what you owe. Your credit report lists all current and past credit accounts, loans, and other lines of credit that have been opened in your name.

The three major U.S. credit bureaus — Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion — maintain a copy of your report at each bureau. The law requires that you be given access to this information upon request to review it for accuracy. You don’t want an unpaid medical bill to bring your score down!

There are many outlets on which to monitor your credit that are free. Ask us about how to best track your credit, how to repair your credit, or how to build credit.

Chapter 8

Get your financial fitness fall checklist

Completing tasks and checking off a fall financial list is helpful before the year’s end, as it can provide a sense of accomplishment and organization that can carry you into the new year. Use this financial fitness checklist to help clean up loose ends and ask about wealth management for retirement planning.




Don’t forget to reassess the risk in your investment portfolio and rebalance if needed; it is vital for retirement. Read: When And Why Does My Risk Tolerance Change?

And if you have tapped into your emergency savings without refilling those funds, make that a top priority.

Even though autumn can feel a bit sluggish in terms of financial activity, it should be considered an ideal time to execute your annual financial health checkup. This checklist will help you ensure you are on top of everything and prepared for whatever comes next. And a financial advisor in Phoenix or Flagstaff can help you in doing so.  

Ascendant Financial Solutions, Inc. is an independent SEC Registered Investment Advisory firm serving clients in the Flagstaff and Phoenix, Arizona areas. With more than thirty years of experience in the financial industry, we partner with families, business owners, and retirees to ascend to greater financial heights on their journey to financial freedom. No matter how complex your financial goals are, our team will rise to the challenge to help you meet your goal.