How often should I do a financial check-up?
Conducting a mid-year check-up on key financial areas—budget, credit score, retirement savings, life insurance—will allow you to adjust, if needed, to keep your annual financial goals on track. Here are some important aspects of a financial check-up.
Hold your own budget summit
Has your budget changed? Evaluate your spending habits and reset goals, if needed. If you got a raise or a new job, maybe you can afford to save more each month. If you don't already have a budget, start one—a mid-year financial check-up still gives you 6 months to make a difference.
Optimize your tax breaks
Are you taking advantage of opportunities to lower your taxable income by paying into a tax-advantaged retirement account? Are you maximizing contributions to your retirement plan? For example, say you were able to contribute $18,000 in pretax dollars to your 401(k) or 403(b) in 2016. For those aged 50 and older, it's possible to make a catch-up contribution of as much as $6,000, which increases your 2016 total to $24,000.
Get reacquainted with your investments
While it can be good to leave your investments alone, it's also a good idea to review your portfolio once a year. Consider your financial goals and assess risk level compared with the market's year-to-date performance and make any adjustments to keep you on pace with your financial goals.
Revisit insurance coverage
Are the liability limits you have still high enough to protect your assets? If you've done any home improvements or upgrades, consider whether your policy is high enough to replace your home and possessions, if needed.
Evaluate your debt
Look at your credit card balances and other loans. Is your balance creeping up? Maybe you need to make some budget adjustments or consider refinancing to lower interest rates.
Estate plans and wills only need to be reviewed every 5 years or so, but consider making this part of your mid-year financial check-up if a life change has happened, such as marriage, divorce, birth or death. This would also be a good time to look at life insurance and retirement account beneficiary designations to ensure they match the rest of your estate plan.
Doing a mid-year financial check-up might seem like a lot of work, but it will help protect you, your loved ones and everything you've worked hard for.
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