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How to Do a Financial Checkup

How to Do a Financial Checkup

Effective money management habits

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Almost 47% of adults in the U.S. spend more money than they earn each month, according to Fidelity. If you’re hoping to decrease your debts and grow your wealth, it’s important to set aside time to do a financial wellness checkup. Doing this will allow you to reassess your spending and saving habits so you can start feeling more positive about your financial situation.

Assess your current financial habits

Assess your current financial habits

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Think about the last time you sat down to review your finances. Did you set goals back then, and have you been meeting those goals? If you have, that’s great — you’re on the right track to growing your wealth. If you haven’t been meeting your goals, it’s time to think about why. What are your current spending habits? What percentage of your income do you save? Do you have an emergency fund set aside? Assessing your current habits will help you determine how to set new, more manageable goals.

Evaluate your debt

Evaluate your debt

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Over 42% of U.S. adults between the ages of 25 and 54 have credit card debt and 38% have some form of non-housing related debt, according to Fidelity. Take note of the debts you have to pay off and determine which ones have the highest interest rates. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission recommends paying off any high-interest debt from credit cards — which is considered 8% or higher — as quickly as possible, while still paying the minimum on other debts. Think outside the box on how to get the money to do that. Perhaps that means you turn your hobby into a side business for extra income.

Evaluate your surplus

Evaluate your surplus

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For those who have been sticking to their budget, there is a chance you have a surplus of money to evaluate in your savings. Determine your most pressing needs such as saving for an emergency fund, paying off debts or starting to save for your children’s higher education.

Do you have a budget?

Do you have a budget?

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If you don’t have one, consider making a budget to help you better accomplish your financial objectives. If you do already have one, think about any recent changes in life such as a new job, marriage, buying a home, starting a family or divorce. Your overall financial goals might change as new life events happen, so be sure to make changes to your budget accordingly. A pretty widely accepted budget breakdown is the 50-30-20 rule. This means you set aside 50% of your after-tax income for needs, 30% for wants and 20% for savings.

Assess how prepared you are for emergencies

Assess how prepared you are for emergencies

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It’s great to budget for the expected, but it’s imperative to budget for the unexpected. Recessions, car repairs, layoffs, and health emergencies arise that could affect your savings. Having three to six month’s worth of living expenses saved is what is recommended by Vanguard to help get you through surprise situations. Living expenses include food, housing, utilities, debt repayment, transportation and healthcare. Examples of things that shouldn’t be included are vacations, entertainment and dining out.

Review your 401(k) contributions

Review your 401(k) contributions

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About 54% of Americans say that their biggest financial worry is not saving enough for retirement, according to a Gallup poll from 2019. If you haven’t taken the company match for your 401(k), consider doing so. Even further, if you can afford to max out your 401(k), this could be an option for even more savings. Some employers may not offer a 401(k) or similar retirement plan. If this is the case, consider setting up a Roth IRA to contribute to.

Rethink your insurance coverage

Rethink your insurance coverage

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Life insurance should change as your life changes. If you’ve purchased a home or had children, for example, think about adjusting your life insurance plans to reflect those changes. Shop around and make sure you’re getting the best deal from your car insurance. If your premiums are going up for your health insurance, or if your doctor no longer accepts your insurance, switch to a plan better suited for you and your family.

Analyze your taxes

Analyze your taxes

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Keep a record and take full advantage of tax deductions or credits that might be available to you. Stay organized by keeping all your tax documents in one spot and make sure you’re choosing the right filing status.

Get a free credit report

Get a free credit report

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Under the Free Credit Reporting Act, you can get a free copy of your credit report from credit reporting companies Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. Reviewing your credit report will allow you to ensure that it remains accurate and to help protect yourself against identity theft. Your credit is crucial to your financial health and misconceptions about it, so make sure you understand what your score means.

Prioritize

Prioritize

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Keeping a watchful eye on your finances will help you determine when adjustments need to be made as priorities change. Budget for what is important right now, and be sure to always consider what you’ll need to save for in the future. The best part about budgets is that they can be adapted as your life circumstances change.

Thinking about how to allocate your income can be challenging. Here are 15 easy ways to start saving money.

 

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