The Top of the List

Fiscally Fit with Reliant

Article by Jeannie Tabor

Photography by Sarah Bell Sélavie Photography

Originally published in River City Lifestyle

Eat more kale. Drink less wine. Show up for exercise class and skip desserts. These are goals commonly found on many a New Year’s Resolutions list. But, this year, adding financial planning to the top of your list may be the most significant move you make. 

“This year, more than ever, we are reminded of the reality that life is unpredictable,“ says Susan Huffman, Founder and Chief Investment Officer of Reliant Investment Management. “Covid has changed many things in our world and accelerated many financial decisions and retirement plans, but it hasn’t necessarily changed the advice we give. Sound financial advice is tried and true: Be thoughtful. Save early and often. Invest in companies you know and understand. Don’t try to time the market.”  

Reliant Investment Management, established in 1986 and based in Memphis, provides financial planning services and portfolio management for individuals, small businesses owners, non-profits, and foundations. Huffman attributes Reliant’s long-term success to their strong team of professionals. “Our team is what sets us apart. Clients have a primary contact at the firm but they get the full benefit of our team. At Reliant, you get a team that has diverse backgrounds and professional experiences. We are able to combine diversity of thought with a unity of purpose, mission, and vision,” says Huffman. 

The most important first step to financial health is knowledge, according to Emily Dafferner, a certified financial planner at Reliant. “Each year you should take inventory of your financial life -- know exactly what you own and what you owe, whether you are coming out ahead or behind each month, and what you want your money to do for you both now and in the future. You should also factor in any major life changes that could impact your financial situation or goals.” Armed with that knowledge, you can begin to tailor your financial strategy to best match your unique situation and meet your personal goals.

Meeting with a financial planner is a great way to begin this process. Whether you need assistance developing a healthy financial budget or managing a diverse portfolio of assets, having an objective advisor help you make financial decisions can be critical to success.  

This is true for all age categories. In your twenties, you may need encouragement to put the maximum amount into your corporate retirement plan and understand the matching program. In your thirties, you can begin to consider various life insurance options and increase your monthly savings to cover vacations and home improvement. Once you enter your forties, the conversation turns toward college tuition savings plans, planned giving and retirement.  

Sometimes changing laws may necessitate a change in your financial strategy. Lon Magness, a principal at Reliant, says, “the negotiations in Congress over tax laws related to capital gains and inheritance pushed many people to make adjustments throughout the last year, in some cases making strategic plans for charitable giving or making living transfers of wealth to children and grandchildren today rather than waiting for it to be an inheritance. In all these cases, clients are choosing their legacies now and encouraging and teaching sound financial habits and generosity to those around them.” 

Just as important as our physical and mental health, financial wellness is a key factor in our overall satisfaction. We all know money can’t buy happiness, but there is certainly a value to eliminating or dramatically reducing financial stress from our lives. Dafferner, offered “while many commit to resolutions to improve ourselves physically, we often forget about one of the main stressors in life: finances. Without realizing it, financial concerns can easily seep into our everyday lives and derail our ability to stay on track.” 

So, this year, vow to eat healthier, cut back on sweets, maybe even train for that half-marathon. But investing in your financial health will likely yield the most dividends. 

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