It’s hard to believe that we’ve reached the halfway point of this year. It won’t be long before we’ll see fall decorations on the store shelves and be hearing Christmas music as we stroll through the mall. Much has changed in our lives since we rang in 2012.

Many of you began this year with a resolution to eat better, exercise more and maybe even rein in your financial spending. The markets were volatile last year as the European crisis coupled with the debt ceiling debate and “double dip” recession fears caused many portfolios to decline in 2011. Six months have passed. How have you done?

Have you kept off those pounds that you promised you’d lose this year? Resolutions are difficult to keep and a challenge to succeed on your own. How about your financial success? Are you more financially secure now that you were six months ago? The European meltdown continues, housing markets are unstable, and the job market seems it will take years to recover the millions of jobs lost during the recession. Have you made any changes to your investments (other than buying the Facebook IPO) in the past six months? The economic picture is still quite murky, but we are all six months older and six months closer to another new year.

In our practice, we talk about birthday risk. You really can’t control when you are born, but your birth date will determine when you turn 65. The markets could be up, interest rates could be incredibly low, or we could be in the midst of a massive recession; who knows? We cannot control when we reach retirement age, but hopefully we can have a say when we retire.

We celebrated our country’s independence this week and remember the sacrifices so many made for us to be free. Financial freedom from debt and the independence to step into retirement involve careful planning, courage and discipline. These financial decisions, like annual resolutions, are difficult to execute alone. Using a trusted independent adviser to help you make the right choices can help you achieve your retirement goals and dreams.

If you’re ready to make those changes to your portfolio you thought about in January, get ready. There’s only 173 days until Christmas.

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