Friday, August 01, 2014
While most people really only take a good look at their finances at the beginning of the year (Did you make resolutions to get out of debt? Save more?), and then again at tax time, it’s a good idea to review your monetary situation now. Why?
We’re halfway through the year and it’s time to reevaluate, making sure you’re on track to meet your objectives, particularly if there’s been a major life change (such as a birth, wedding, or change in job, for example).
Ready to get organized and prepare for the remaining months of 2014? Here are a few things you need to review:
Did you land a new work contract? Get a raise? Lose a job? Time to fine-tune your budget! Take into consideration these standard guidelines: 50% of each paycheck goes to your “Essentials” (like housing, utilities and medical expenses); 30% is spendable income for your lifestyle/‘wants’; and 20% goes to your financial priorities – saving, investing and meeting your financial goals.
How much have you been saving? Are you pretty good about putting away 10-15% from each paycheck? Are you saving on a regular basis (think: automation)? And can you beef up that emergency fund at all? Just something to think about.
After all, if something does go wrong and you suddenly face unexpected expenses, you don’t want to put those on a high-interest credit card.
Are you in a company-sponsored plan? And are you contributing enough to this plan? Could you bump up those contributions a notch or two?
To see where you’re at, how your investments are performing, and how much you’re paying in fees (which could end up costing you tens of thousands of dollars in lost earnings by the time you retire) take a look at your most recent statement and then consider making changes if you think you can do better.
If you haven’t checked your credit in a while, there’s no time like the present. You’re entitled to this report once a year, for free. Get yours now, on freecreditscore.com. Once you do, be sure to look things over carefully as errors can and do occur, possibly resulting in you being denied credit altogether.
The good news is that the broad market is up again this year — continuing a bull run that has tripled your equity stake since 2009. The problem is, investment success often brings with it a growing exposure to risk. Is this risk too much for you to tolerate?
Review your portfolio and consider making adjustments if you think your exposure to certain assets has grown uncomfortably high.
It’s never too soon to start planning for next tax year. Waiting until the last minute to get your paperwork together (receipts, records, etc.) often ends up costing you, particularly if you miss out on money-saving credits or deductions. Now is also a good time to review your withholding to make sure you’re having the proper amount withheld.