The end of the year is an apt time to examine your personal finances, a financial planner says. Larry Stein, a certified financial planner in Deerfield, says you don’t have to feel guilty about being imperfect, because a lot of people are, even if they’re smart in other areas.

“Sometimes even the shoemaker’s kids don’t have good shoes, and it’s quite often that even a highly competent top professional may not handle things in the most sound way when it comes to their personal finances,” he said.


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Bad practices:

  • Maintaining credit card balances, and having those balances go up over the year
  • Dipping into emergency reserves for a non-emergencies
  • Not requesting your free annual credit report
  • Not having a will
  • Not contributing to your employer’s 401(k) plan, especially if your employer matches your contribution.

Good practices:

  • Shopping with a list
  • Preparing a budget every year to govern your spending
  • Paying yourself first. For example, you automatically set aside a portion of your paycheck for short-term and long-term financial goals
  • Knowing your FICO credit score, your net worth, your marginal tax rate, and your monthly fixed expenses.

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