Just like getting the oil changed in your car on a regular basis, it’s a good idea to check on your financial house to be sure everything is in order. Here are a few items to review every year to be sure they are working in your favor:
- Personal spending plan – if you are not following a spending plan yet, create one and follow it. Cash flow is the cornerstone of achieving financial goals such as retirement and funding a college education for your kids or grandkids. Developing a plan that works for you, and following it, can help show you areas where you might be spending too much. This can enable you to save more efficiently for the goals and dreams that you want to achieve!
- Emergency reserve – keeping $1,000 – $5,000 in an easily accessible savings account for unforeseen emergencies can help avoid unnecessary credit card usage. In addition, a safety net of 3-6 months’ worth of living expenses, in a relatively liquid account, is a recommended second layer of protection. Don’t have an emergency reserve? Item #1 of this checklist can help you determine areas where you can divert money to savings rather than spending it
- Annual credit report – be sure to log onto https://www.annualcreditreport.com each year to verify the information included in each of the three major credit bureau’s reports. It is completely free to access once every 12 months.
- Monthly subscriptions – verify your automatic monthly payments. Are you still using those products or services? If not, cancel them and save some money!
- Employer benefits – prepare for open enrollment and take advantage of what your employer offers for benefits. These can include life insurance, disability insurance, and most importantly a 401k or other retirement savings plan. Verify if they provide a match and take advantage of that by contributing at least the minimum necessary to receive the match.
- Shop or renegotiate – take a look at bills like your car insurance or cable bill. It is possible you are paying too much. You may benefit from shopping around for a better deal or renegotiating a lower payment.