It’s Summertime! What better time than now for a midyear financial checkup?
The beaches are calling as well as vacations, so spending time with your finances probably doesn’t sound very alluring. However, a midyear review of your financial situation, especially looking at key financial fitness areas, can yield great dividends.
Mid-year is an ideal time to check on your financial health. There is still enough time left in the year to correct lapses in savings, change spending habits, fund a retirement plan, start saving for your child’s or grandchild’s college education or complete mid-year tax planning to eliminate a huge tax surprise come April 15th of next year. If you haven’t reviewed your finances this year, here are a few topics that need the most attention:
“Systematic Spending” aka “Budgeting”
Being financially fit long-term rests on controlling expenses. Take time to figure out where your money goes each month by using financial software such as Mint.com or Quicken. Closely examine your expenses for the first six months of this year. This brief check may reveal opportunities to reduce spending in some areas and redirect money toward more important goals. Unless you track where ATM withdrawals are spent, frequent withdrawals from an ATM can be a big drain on a budget. By tracking and reviewing your year-to-date expenses, you can identify a surprisingly large amount of money that is either unaccounted for or spent unnecessarily. With a little bit of effort, these funds can be redirected toward reducing debt, adding to savings or to investment accounts. Having at least three months of living expenses in an emergency fund is always smart. By closely reviewing where your money is going, you might reduce spending and start saving more for your future.
This is a perfect time to revisit your retirement accounts and current investment allocation. Are you on schedule to maximize your contribution to your company retirement plan this year? If you can fund additional retirement accounts such as a non-deductible IRA or a Roth IRA, be sure you have enough surplus cash on hand to fund these accounts by their respective deadlines. If you are short on funds for retirement savings purposes, plan your budget accordingly for the rest of the year and use discipline to stay on track.
Normally you should consider doing tax planning closer to the end of the year, but this year is an exception. On January 1, 2018, new tax laws went into effect and they are sure to impact your taxes in 2018. Besides the tax rate changes, there were major changes to Schedule A itemized deductions, who pays Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT), and how certain types of businesses will be taxed. Start considering how these changes will impact you now, as there may be planning opportunities to help save you tax dollars that you can implement throughout the year
Health and Health Insurance
Poor health is expensive! More health insurance companies will base premiums on that status of your health. With longer daylight hours during the summer, make a commitment to walk or perform some other form of exercise at least for a half hour a day, five days a week. Eat healthier and focus on portion sizes. Remember to get plenty of sleep. Not only will you feel better, your overall outlook will improve!
Check your Credit
If you haven’t scheduled a time to receive your three credit reports annually, do it now. You have the right to get all three of your credit reports—from Experian, TransUnion and Equifax—once a year for free. You can do so by ordering them at www.annualcreditreport.com. You could also order one credit report now and schedule your remaining for the fall and spring. By staggering the receipt of each of your credit reports at different points in the year, you’ll get a continuous picture of how your credit looks. Also, you’ll have the opportunity to focus on possible errors in a single report, which will give the other two credit agencies time to update their data.
Try picking one of the above areas to focus on. Once you have finished one area, move on to the next one at your own pace. Spending time on your financial health this summer will only help you in the future. Don’t forget to have some fun this summer with your friends and family!
CCMI provides personalized fee-only financial planning and investment management services to business owners, professionals, individuals and families in San Diego and throughout the country. CCMI has a team of CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNERTM professionals who act as fiduciaries, which means our clients’ interests always come first.
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