***This is a Guest Post. <3 from the Dames***
People often start the new year begins with a ton of financial resolutions…but old habits are tough to break, especially when it comes to finances. So, it’s a wise idea to review your finances periodically and check-up on whether you are on track to meet those goals or not.
While the middle of the year might be over (so long summer weather!), this is actually the ideal time to check if you’re on the right financial track. Think of it as the adult version of going back to school. If you’re in trouble, there’s still time to get back on the right financial track before the festive season begins, and if you’re not, then happy holidays to you!
What is a mid-year financial check-up?
A mid-year financial check up can help you attain your financial goals, and avoid problems in the future. A mid-year check-up can accomplish several things. You can stop and think about your financial goals, such as saving for retirement, a house, a child’s education, or a financial cushion, and then make sure that you are investing appropriately for those goals. And while you are looking at your accounts, take care of “housekeeping” items, too, like checking beneficiaries, reviewing your insurance coverage, and updating contact information.
Here are some things that must be on your financial checklist:
- Check your credit report: It’s best to check your credit report periodically (OR RIGHT NOW). Either way, the third quarter of the year has already begun and there might be errors or updates since you last checked. Have you settled any credit card debt? Check if the creditor has updated the account status on your credit report. Check if there are fraudulent activities on your credit report too. If you find any inconsistencies, place a fraud alert on your credit report. This is especially important given the recent Equifax hacking issue – you don’t want to get dinged for any new credit lines you didn’t authorize.
- Recheck your financial resolutions: Remember, in January when you made a list of your financial resolutions for this year? You made a resolution to save $10,000 for emergencies. Calculate how much you have saved till now. You also made a resolution to pay off your credit card debts. How much have you progressed? If you have saved only $1000 till now, then it’s time to cut down your spending and save more.
- Find out if you’re ready for the holiday season: The official holiday season begins on Black Friday. Are you planning to travel this year? Do you want to give lots of goodies to your friends and family this year? If so, then it’s high time you start saving for the festive season. You can start budgeting for gifts or even start shopping now and spread out the spending. This way you can avoid incurring credit card debt. Revisit your budget to be prepared for the upcoming expenses you need to be as jolly as you’d like.
- Check your investment portfolio: Have a look at your investment portfolio and find out how the ups and downs in the financial market have affected it. Check if you have lost a lot of money or made heavy profits. It’s time to decide how much risk you’re willing to take in the remaining months of the year. Change your investment plans if you feel that your investment returns will help you fulfill your financial resolutions.
- Check your debt repayment progress: Obviously, your expenses will increase after October, and it will be difficult for you to manage debt, so try to pay off your debts before the holiday season begins (unless your planning to put your Christmas money towards those debts – I see you!). While it’s not possible to pay off your home loan or student loans in just 2-3 months, keeping up those regular payments (& maybe an extra payment) is still progress. Now’s also a good time to see if you’re still keeping to your budget and not spending a little too much on PSLs and cute booties.
- Have a look at your taxes: I know, you just finished those in April, but seriously, look at your latest pay stub. Calculate the amount of state and federal taxes that has been withheld and make sure you’re on track for next year. Remember, you don’t want to give an interest-free loan to the government, but you also don’t want to end up owing a ton next April. If there’s something that can affect your tax liability, then this is the right time to make changes. And don’t forget, you’ll reduce your tax liabilities by donating to charitable organizations.
- Review your retirement contributions: The IRS changes the retirement contribution limits every year to adjust for inflation. Check if the figures have changed this year and adjust your contributions accordingly. Have you received any financial windfalls? If so, then you can use these additional funds to increase your contributions too. Calculate what it will take for you to max out your contributions for the year, and if possible, try to do it!
Review your financial goals—and the investments that go along with them—to see if anything has changed. Get a tax break and save for retirement at the same time. If you aren’t contributing the max to retirement savings accounts, see if you can bump up contributions.
While this might sound like a lot of work, a mid-year check-up is well worth the effort when you consider the hard work you have put into meeting your financial goals for this year, and for life.
***This is a Guest Post by Patricia Sanders, a regular contributor at wiki.debtcc.com.***