While the number of people making New Year’s financial resolutions are on the rise, we would do well to make a midyear financial check a regular part of the summer season.
The good news is more than 30% of Americans did give some thought to making financial resolutions this past New Year, according to a survey from Fidelity Investments. The goals were nothing out of the ordinary. They were simply the things we should all be doing with our money: saving more, spending less and getting rid of debt.
If you were one of these go-getter and goal-setters, this summer is a perfect time to look at your progress, says US News in “Keep Your Money Goals on Track with a Midyear Financial Checkup.”
While summer is a natural halfway point between New Year's financial resolutions and year-end tax planning, it's also a convenient time to contact financial experts, tax planners, human resources representatives and other advisors—who are less busy during their “off-season.” For your midyear financial checkup, look at each of these financial areas.
Taxes. By summer, you should have a decent idea of what's going on with your tax situation and can start planning. Are there any major life changes since last year to include in your tax strategy? This will mean a transition in your tax situation. Also, if you earned a nice tax refund in April or paid a large tax bill, you should ask for a W-4 from your employer and adjust your withholding. Also, look and see if you're maxing out workplace tax benefits—like your flexible spending accounts and retirement contributions.
Insurance. Use the summer to determine if your insurance plans are meeting your needs. Many employers have an open enrollment for health insurance and other benefits in late fall, so now’s the time to think about this.
Estate Planning. If you don't yet have an estate plan in place, speak with an experienced estate planning attorney. Don’t be one of the 64% of Americans that don't have a will. Get the basics prepared, such as an up-to-date will, power of attorney and health care directive.
Emergency Fund. Check on your emergency fund and see if it was depleted by a summer vacation or another event like a change of jobs. Time to beef it up! You should keep three to six months' worth of living expenses readily available. Build your rainy day fund by putting a percentage of your paycheck into savings every month. If you don't see that money available in your checking account, you won't miss it.
The Big Picture. Summer often includes vacation time. Use this time to get away from your regular day-to-day activities and think about your goals for the future. Ask yourself the big questions: where do you want to be in five years, ten years or twenty years? What matters for you and your family? Give some serious thought to your future and take the necessary steps to implement the financial and legal plans required to reach those goals.
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