It may be hard to believe, but more than half of 2019 is already in the books! With just under 50% of the year remaining, it’s the perfect time for a financial checkup so that you can ring in 2020 fiscally healthy. Here are 8 steps to make your financial life say “Ahhh”:
Take a Snapshot
First things first. It’s important to see where you currently stand, so take a look at your assets, debts, and net worth as of today. Are there any surprises or are things going about how you expected? Seeing your financial vitals in plain view helps to highlight where your attention is needed most.
Reassess Your Goals
Life can change quickly, so it’s important to view your goals as being fluid. Think back to the objectives you set at the beginning of the year. Do they still serve you?
If they don’t seem to fit anymore, declare new ones based on what you learned from your financial snapshot. If they’re still valid, reflect on the progress you’ve made this year. If you’re not as far along as you’d like, be gentle with yourself, and recommit to what needs to be done.
Review Your Habits
You’ve looked at the big picture — now you need to get into the nitty gritty. Pull out your bank and credit card statements and review every purchase you made over the last 6 months. Is your spending aligned with your values and goals? If not, take the opportunity to nix the expenses that don’t support your best life. Remember, Charlie can help you track cash flow and find ways to reduce your bills.
Plan for Upcoming Expenses
Socking away money for planned expenses can help you reduce stress and avoid debt. Fall semester textbooks, your friend’s winter wedding, and holiday travel can all be paid for in cash if you budget for them now. It’s also a good idea to replenish your emergency fund if you had to tap into it earlier in the year.
Check Your Investments
Take a peek at your retirement plan and brokerage accounts. How are they performing? Depending on your situation, it may be appropriate to rebalance your portfolio or tweak your investing strategy.
If you’re not investing, what’s stopping you? It’s better to start now even if you can only swing a small amount (unless you have high-interest credit card debt — tackle that first). At a minimum, try to contribute enough to your employer-sponsored retirement plan to get the full company match.
Deal with Debt
If you’ve got less debt now than in January, congrats! If you’ve got more, what happened? Determine if your spending habits, your income level, a high-interest rate, or a major unexpected expense is the culprit.
Then, try to cut expenses, earn more money, increase your payments to get ahead of the interest, or bolster your emergency fund, respectively. With the right plan of attack, you can get back on track — or make even more progress toward being debt-free.
Ask for a Raise
Having more money can expedite your financial goals, so if you haven’t gotten a raise in awhile — ask! Before approaching your boss, check your market value and make a list of your major accomplishments on the job to help build your case. If you received a bump recently or the answer is no, consider switching employers or getting a side hustle to increase your income.
Review Financial Documents
Periodically, it’s important to make sure your financial documents are up to date. If you’ve gotten married, divorced, had a child, or think Uncle Sam isn’t taking out the right amount of taxes from your paycheck, review your tax withholding form and update it as needed.
You should also check your estate plan and beneficiary designations to ensure everything is still listed in accordance with your wishes. If you have new assets to include, want to switch your medical proxy, or your ex is no longer in the picture, amend those documents, stat!
It seems like the ball dropped in Times Square just yesterday, but the year will be over in a blink. Either way, it’s not too late to get back on track with your financial resolutions — or up the ante if you’re crushing your original goals.
Tell Charlie: How has the first half of the year treated your wallet?