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As 2017 comes to a close, we’re taking a bit of time to look back at the top financial topics throughout the year. It’s been a busy one for sure! So grab a cup of coffee, get comfy, and have a little financial learning fun before the New Year is upon us.

Here’s what’s been trending in the world of finance in 2017:

January: Raising a child can cost almost a quarter of a million dollars:

 

According to a recent report, being a parent is only getting more expensive. On average, a middle class married couple can expect to pay $233,610 to raise a child through age 17. Even though early childhood seems super costly, with diapers, child care, and baby equipment, the expenses continue to rise as kids age. Planning ahead is the key to ensuring the high costs of starting a family don’t derail your finances long term.


February: The DOL Fiduciary Rule puts the financial services industry on notice to change how it does business:

 

 

Big changes are in the works for the financial services industry. Although President Trump put a hold on its implementation for the time-being, the eventual roll out of the DOL Fiduciary Rule is forcing many financial advisors and firms to change the way they do business.

As it currently stands, financial advisors who aren’t fiduciaries merely have to ensure that an investment is suitable for their client. Unfortunately, being a suitable investment doesn’t necessarily mean it’s in the best interests of the client. The DOL Fiduciary Rule will hold financial advisors to a higher standard. Once the regulation is in effect, doing what’s best for the client will no longer be optional.

Even though the DOL Fiduciary Rule may be in limbo for now, it’s pending implementation has caused customers to take a second look at their current financial advisor and reassess where their interests really lie. A fiduciary is obligated to always do what’s best for you, period.


March: It’s tax season: What should you do with that refund?

 

It’s that time of year again! While you’re scrambling to get your paperwork in order before the April deadline, you might also be expecting a sizable refund this year. The average refund last year was $2,857 – that’s a chunk of change!

If a refund is going to hit your bank account soon, go ahead and make a plan for what to do with the extra cash flow. Here are a few recommendations:

  • Remove the funds from your checking account soon after they’re deposited. That way, you’re less likely to spend the money haphazardly.
  • Use the money to pay down outstanding debt loads. If your credit cards are higher than you’d like, pay off a chunk. Are student loans looming over your head? Put the money toward those. Every little bit helps!
  • Sock some away in your savings or investment accounts.

Once you’ve responsibly put most of the money aside toward your financial goals, treat yourself with a bit of the rest.


April: Financial Literacy Month: How do you stack up?

 

It’s Financial Literacy Month! While this may not get you overly excited, growing your financial know-how over time is very important. Unfortunately, according to a recent survey, only a third of the world population is considered finance savvy. The United States came in at #14 in international rankings.

So what is financial literacy? It’s a person’s overall knowledge of basic personal finance matters. We’re big believers in starting to learn about these concepts at an early age. Talking to your kids about money on a regular basis is critical in the long term. Schools are beginning to add personal finance curriculum to the classroom, but we still have a long way to go. The key to making finance easier to understand is to make it approachable. It doesn’t have to be overly complicated or complex.

Want to know if you have your financial wits about you? Take this quick quiz and find out.

 

We have a lot more trending topics from 2017 to cover as December rolls on, so stick around! And if you’re ready to brush up on your own personal finances, we’d be happy to help. Take our free Risk Assessment to get started.

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