Spring is the perfect time to clean out your closet, organize that spice cabinet, and take a magnifying glass to your financial goals. As you clean up and check on the status of things in your physical home, take this time to run through a financial checkup as well.
If you created a budget at the beginning of the new year, the change in the seasons is a good time to check-in and see how that plan has been working out. Have you been spending more than you anticipated? Less? Have you gotten a raise or has your working situation changed? Based on your income and expenses so far, adjust your monthly budget to more accurately reflect your habits. This will help set you up for success for the rest of the year.
It’s still early in the year, and there’s no reason to confine positive and the best financial planning resolutions to January! After looking over your budget, see if you can identify negative patterns that can be altered and positive ones that should be continued. For example, if you’ve noticed that you’re spending far more on dining out than you anticipated, maybe it’s time to compile a list of recipes that you love and do more eating at home than at restaurants. Alternatively, if you started a monthly subscription service for online learning classes that you are actively using to improve your work, that could be a healthy expense.
Budgeting isn’t about cutting out things you enjoy; it’s simply a tool for awareness and planning.
Assess Your Savings Goals
After seeing where your cash flow is going, take a look at your savings goals and see if you’re on track. If you’re like many people, you’re balancing paying down debt, saving for retirement, adding to your emergency fund, and saving for a variety of family and personal financial goals. You may find it helpful to set up auto-withdrawals to savings that whisk money away before you have a chance to notice it in your bank account.
Review Your Retirement Accounts
In addition to looking at your savings accounts in general, dive into your retirement accounts. Do you have employer-sponsored retirement accounts from past jobs? You might want to consolidate them with your current plan so you can monitor progress in one location. Take this time to ensure you’re taking full advantage of any employer matching provisions for 401(k)s or SIMPLE IRAs as well.
This is a good time to see if your individual portfolio is balanced in a way that aligns with your goals and risk tolerance. If it isn’t, put in a call to your financial advisor and talk about how you can change things to get back on track.
Check Your Credit Score
If you aren’t already checking your credit score regularly, sign up for free reports. There are plenty of companies that can provide you with a free credit report that does not impact your credit score. In addition to allowing you to check for potential errors, knowing your credit score is the first step in improving it.
Organize Your Financial Files
As you go through the rest of your spring cleaning tasks, don’t forget to clean out your filing cabinet. Make virtual copies of important documents, save them in the cloud and on an external hard drive, and shred paper copies with personal information before you throw them in the trash.
You don’t need to wait for spring to re-examine your financial goals; you can do this as often as you like. However, when there are periods of volatility in the market, this can be an especially good time for a financial checkup — just be sure that any decisions you make are made because they are part of your long-term strategy and not because you’re fearful of what the market is doing.
If you’ve done some refining on your own and you’re ready for more assistance, take a look at our services and reach out to one of our CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ team members.
The opinions expressed herein are those of Morris Financial Concepts, Inc. (“MFC”) and are subject to change without notice. This material is for informational purposes only and should not be considered investment advice. MFC is an independent investment adviser registered under the Investment Advisers Act of 1940, as amended. Registration does not imply a certain level of skill or training. More information about MFC including our investment strategies, fees and objectives can be found in our ADV Part 2, which is available upon request. MFC-20-10.