With a New Year come resolutions and one of the most common resolutions for Americans is getting their finances in order. In today’s post, I’ll share 6 things to check off to get your finances in order.
Create a Budget
No financial resolution is complete without the dreaded budget advice. It’s so often repeated yet so often disregarded because it’s often thought of as too time-consuming or difficult. The days of manually creating a budget on a spreadsheet are long gone. A quick Google search of budgeting apps will give you several options that are not only effective but extremely easy to use. If you find yourself struggling with your finances, the single most important thing you can do is know where your money is being spent by utilizing a budget.
Establish an Emergency Fund
At some point in time, an emergency expense is going to arise. Whether it’s a broken appliance or a medical emergency, having a rainy-day fund will help you from having to go into debt to cover an unexpected expense. Each person’s comfort level is different when it comes to the amount in an emergency fund, but the general rule of thumb is 3-6 months of living expenses.
Pay down your Debt
Not all debt is bad. Mortgage debt and student loans are two examples of debt that are generally considered beneficial. However, a high-interest debt like credit cards or auto loans should be avoided if possible. As part of your budget, allocate as much as you are comfortable with towards paying down your high-interest debt.
Insurance is an area many of us overlook due to its complexity and seemingly endless options. It’s also an area that is vitally important if you ever need it. Take the time during annual enrollment to thoroughly review your health insurance options to make sure you have a policy that is right for you and your family.
If you have a family, review what you have for life insurance and disability coverage. If something happens to you, you need to have a plan to care for your family if you are no longer alive or able to make a living.
If you have children and want to provide for their college education, consider setting up a 529 plan or custodial account to assist them. Learn more about college savings options in our blog, Saving For Your Child's College Funds- What You Need to Know.
If you’re quickly approaching retirement or just graduating college, it’s never too late or too early to start planning for your retirement years. A comprehensive retirement plan will consider all aspects of retirement and help you reach your financial goals when you’re ready to retire.
If any of these steps sound like too much to take on alone, a CFP® professional like our advisors at Frontier Bank Wealth Management & Trust would have the knowledge and experience to help you with your financial checklist.
Brad Lupkes, CFP®