The end of the year is that special time when you get a chance to look back at how you spent your money and how it compared to your budget. Don't have a budget? Now would be a good time to create one. That's especially so, because spending is one of the few things you get to control in retirement.
What to do? Here's what Don Grant, a certified financial planner with CTHB/DGrant Financial, does with his clients:
"What I discuss with clients is directly related to their monthly cash flow and spending power.
It seems like every company that we consumers use for a product or service is trying to annuitize their relationship with us. I ordered vitamins on Amazon, and they wanted to put me on a plan whereby they will bill me monthly, and send me vitamins monthly. Netflix, Hulu, cable or DirectTV, Apple cloud storage, trash collection, gym memberships, dog-food companies, razor blade makers... all of them want to get us on a subscription, whereby they can count on ongoing revenue.
I review checking accounts with my clients to do an annual cleaning of those ongoing bank transfers and automatic debits. We first check to ensure that my client is still using that service. Are they watching premium channels they are paying for? Do we still go to the gym we're paying for? Is there a new trash collection upstart that will charge less to acquire more customers? Many of these companies count on us forgetting that we've signed up for their service, and that we continue to let that monthly bank draft feed their bottom line.
Almost every time I do these reviews, we find something that we can cancel - thus increasing cash flow to my client.
One more big savings is a life insurance review. I have many clients hanging onto term life policies when they really don't need them anymore.
That's what I look for."
Got questions about money, retirement and/or investments? Email Robert.Powell@TheStreet.com