Dayia Surtleff, marketing assistant, Lewiston State Bank
As we head into the cooler months of the year, schedules often fill up with back-to-school health checkups. The start of a new school year is always a good reminder to check on things such as our health and wellness goals, but it is also an excellent time to do a financial checkup. Taking some time now to address financial health can really help you to have a stress-free year and reach your fiscal goals for the year. Here is our list of financial checks to consider this fall.
Adjust your budget.
No budget is perfect, so it is important to make adjustments when needed. This can also be true if you have given up entirely. If that picture-perfect budget you had outlined back in January takes too much time and resources to follow, adjusting your approach to budgeting is a good solution. Utilize tools that help do your work for you. Budgeting apps such as MoneyDesktop® by MX, Mint® or Good Budget® are often free and connect directly to your institution to track expenses and automatically categorize them into your predetermined accounts. Check with your financial institution; they may offer a similar tool.
Check in with your investment portfolios.
It is a good idea to set time each year to adjust and discuss your investment portfolios. Schedule a time to go over your investments with a financial adviser. As an easy reminder, you can schedule your investment checkup every time you schedule a biannual appointment like the dentist. Keep in mind some portfolios might need to have interaction that is more frequent. Follow the advice of your financial adviser if they recommend checking in more often.
Start year end tax preparation now.
Try to avoid a year-end crunch to gather all of your tax information and start planning for year end now. Consider meeting with an accountant now. This will help you avoid stress around the holidays and make for a less stressful tax season next year.
Prepare for holiday purchases.
Speaking of holidays, start preparing your holiday plans now. The earlier you start, the more likely you will stay on budget. You will be able to shop sales and look around for the best prices. If you tend to overspend during the holidays, open a separate bank account just for those purchases. You can place your holiday savings into that account and only use that account to purchase seasonal gifts and activities. We also suggest making a goal to keep a detailed record of what gifts and activities cost this year, so you can better budget for next year.
Evaluate short-term and long-term financial goals.
Lastly, review your short-term and long-term financial goals. Planning for retirement is important, but so is owning a home, or taking that trip to Europe you have always dreamed of. With careful budgeting, you can accomplish many of your short-term and long-term financial goals. Take time to prioritize and review what you have planned for the future. Do not be afraid to ask for help in your financial planning. Making an appointment with a financial adviser may help you realize your goals more quickly.