Despite what the thermometer might say, spring really has arrived! April is Financial Literacy Month and this season of growth and renewal is also the perfect time to spruce up your financial future. Here are some tips on how to clean up your finances:
Evaluate your Financial Goals
Before you can move forward, you need to make sure you’re on the right track. Have you looked at your financial goals in the last six months? Are they the same as they were the last time you did? Have any major life changes happened that might shift your goals? It’s important to draw up a roadmap before you proceed any further.
Examine your budget
Your budget will give you a day-to-day framework that will keep you on track to hit your financial goals. Budget planning involves evaluating your expenses against your income; if your income doesn’t cover your spending, it may be time to re-think your budget. Evaluating your budget is only half the job — once you know what your budget should be, you have to stick with it consistently. Budgeting, like working out, should be something you make part of your regular routine. And like fitness, there are plenty of mobile apps that can help you build up your budgeting muscles. Check out the top apps of 2017 here.
Create a debt payoff plan
Your budget will benefit from paying off debt as quickly and efficiently as possible. Take a look at your accumulated debt and be sure you are making payments on time and that you are aware of high-interest debts or debts with hidden fees.
Be aware of your credit history
Do you know your credit score? Do you know how many inquiries have been made into your credit in the past six months? Both things may affect your ability to secure home or auto loans. It’s vital that you understand your credit score and history, ensure that what’s on your report is accurately reflecting your credit and payment history, and that you take steps to rebuild credit if your score is a hindrance to achieving your financial goals. You can receive a free credit report annually from each of the major agencies, and banks are increasingly offering credit report monitoring as a benefit of having an account.
Review your investments
Your investments play a major role in helping you reach your financial goals. Spring is the perfect time to review your investment portfolio to make sure you are taking the right risks relative to your retirement timeline. It’s important to remember that all investments involve risk, including the loss of principal, so it’s vital to consult with an adviser if you have any questions.
Revisit your tax planning
Tax returns submitted in April can be a great roadmap for tax planning in the spring. Did you get a very large refund? Did you owe money for taxes? Both may signify that you might benefit from changing your withholding level, which you can do by re-submitting a W4 with your employer.
Want a partner as you tackle spring cleaning your finances? The Robin S. Weingast & Associates team is here to help! Contact us today to see how we can help.
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