With tax code changes in the air, like the sweat smell of fresh cut grass in the spring, we are hopeful.

However, whether the tax code gets overhauled, or change somehow slips through the cracks, it is ultimately our own behaviors and choices all year that will save us the most in tax, not the rules around it.

The government isn’t talking about taking away IRA, 401K or other pretax accounts.  They may allow a larger amount or lessor amount to be contributed in the new package.  It doesn’t really matter, as a large number of people who need to be contributing now…..don’t!  If the new tax rules go into effect, and they have $2,000 more in their pocket at the end of 2018 from those changes, they will perhaps double or triple the zero dollars they put away in 2017, either way it still comes out to zero!

The generation that grew up in the last real financial crisis are saving more, having less debt, living in “tiny homes” and being frugal in other ways.  But many Baby Boomers and Gen-Xers are incredibly un-prepared for retirement.  Many of them are still climbing out of the hole that was created by 9/11, the mortgage collapse and the following recession, and still can’t save effectively.  Even if they could, earning interest on money saved isn’t the smartest thing to do when they have credit cards with 14% interest, or a second mortgage charging 4%.

The market could boom on with the news of a corporate tax change, but a correction that many feel is long overdue could come from any night’s news with a missile launch or a successful large scale terror attack, and those same boomers that “got caught” with their pants down when the tech bubble burst could find themselves asking why they didn’t diversify, insure or otherwise protect themselves for a second time in their life.  “How did I convince myself that earnings didn’t matter…again?”

Planning takes time, courage and a non-crowd think mentality.  The country can barely pay the interest on its debt, and likely cannot keep its future promises on healthcare or Social Security.  People brave enough to take on the massive learning curve to try to help the public navigate their financial future are shrinking in number and being replaced by robo-advisor services.  I, for one, do not plan on getting in a car that drives itself, nor do I want a “Doctor machine” that I step into so it can put me to sleep and do my surgery, because people make mistakes and robots don’t !?

Plan your tax outcomes with a tax planner, don’t just dump your paperwork on an accountant’s desk in March and say “do your best”.  Go see a CFP or other “fiduciary” level financial advisor, he or she might use some robo funds, but they will also ask questions that the internet questionnaires can never ask.  Get proactive about using professional advice, not more do it yourself planning.  After all, if you were as good as people who dedicate their lives to the profession, you’d already have a few million tax free dollars tucked away.  Reality check……..

Grab your tax return and go see a tax planner right away.  Start a dialog and keep it going into the new year.  Plan, change behaviors, stop the “screw it up myself” model.  The new tax cuts are just another excuse or false ideal.  You will fix your problems well before the country fixes its own or yours!

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