You might not think twice about scheduling your annual doctor’s appointment with your primary health care. Sure, it might not be the most exciting appointment to look forward too, but it’s important to check up on your health status after another full year. Your doctor’s appointment should act as a reminder for some other areas of self-reflection, your financial health also deserves a check-up at least once a year. Don’t know where to start? Here are 5 steps that can help you through the process.
1. Look at your current finances
It’s easy to go month to month and think that your finances are staying pretty much the same. If you have the same amount of income coming in and your spending budget remains the same, then your financial status shouldn’t change, right? Well, that’s not always the case. Maybe you signed up for an extra TV subscription one month or signed up for a new gym membership another month. Sometimes these small decisions over the year start to add up, without you realizing it. Although it is smart to check your transaction history regularly, taking a deeper dive into your monthly budget and analyzing your spending and saving habits will keep you on top of your current finances.
2. Review your debt
How are you doing on handling that debt you were planning on minimizing this year? Taking time to see the progress you’ve made to eliminating your debt can be rewarding, acknowledging the steps you’ve taken to reach your goal will keep you on track. If instead you realize you haven’t made the dent you were hoping to this year, realigning your goals and steps to get you there is what a financial check-up is all about. Maybe you notice that your credit card debt isn’t getting any better, switching over to your rewards debit card can help you make stronger strides to meet your goal.
3. Go over your current budget
The next step is to go over your current budget. Depending on your debt situation, you might need to adjust your budget for next year. Looking into your spending budget is just as important as looking into your saving budget, have you been able to save as much as you hoped over the past year? If you haven’t already, make sure that you are adding to your emergency fund when you can. If you were lucky enough to not have to dip into that money last year, you never know what can happen in the future.
4. Check your retirement contributions
Your retirement contributions should be something you consider when you first accept a job; However, over the past year you might have received a raise or unfortunately been let go. Adjustments might need to be made accordingly, especially if you changed jobs and your new employee offers a different 401(k) plan. As a rule of thumb, if your employee offers to match your retirement contribution it is beneficial to take full advantage of that opportunity.
5. Evaluate your investment status
It is even important to check up on your investments. Calculate your return on each of your stocks, bonds or mutual funds. If you are not happy with their performance, it might be time to make some changes. If you have not started to invest yet, educating yourself on the best strategies can put you in a better position to start investing for next year’s financial checkup.
Your financial checkup can be completed in just these 5 simple steps. The more often you go through the process, the less difficult it will be the next time you want to get everything in order. For more help with your next checkup, take advantage of the personal financial management tools the bank’s clients use to help them with their finances.