With summer fading away, it is a great time for a financial checkup. While the leaves are changing, school is starting and you are looking toward the holidays, it’s a good idea to review your spending habits and reconsider your budget. The following steps can help you finish 2014 as a fiscally fit individual.
1. Get Organized
Being disorganized can hurt your wallet — and your credit. It’s important to review your monthly bills and your budget — be sure that you are keeping track of when payments are due and try marking some dates on a calendar. A missed payment can do serious credit score damage, since your payment history is the biggest credit scoring component. You can see how your payment history is impacting your credit scores for free every month on Credit.com.
If you notice some newer expenses entering the mix, either make a renewed effort to rein in spending to stay within your budget or adjust your budget so it more accurately reflects your current spending.
2. Re-Evaluate Your Plan
As many people do around the “new year, new slate” mentality, you probably last adjusted your goals back in January. Now is the time to check in on the goals you made and see if you are halfway or almost there. If not, there is still time!
For example, if you are trying to ensure you have enough retirement savings, you may have started the year with a monthly number you wanted to hit. Adjust your goals and get back on track so you will be headed in the right direction moving forward. If big ideas seem overwhelming, try to set some smaller, attainable goals you can reach along the way.
3. Debt, Savings & Investments
Part of moving forward is looking back, so be sure you have all your financial ducks in a row now, from debt to your nest egg to your investments. First things first, make a list of all your debts and add them up including interest rates. This way you can be sure your payment plans are logical and reasonable. Next, be sure your emergency fund has three to six months expenses set aside in case of, well, an emergency. Check up on how any investments and long-term savings plans are faring and make any necessary adjustments or rebalances.
No matter what time of year it is, it is never too late to take control of your finances. Get your monies in check and set some goals you can reach — then celebrate with frugal fall fun. Taking a careful look at your past and planning for your future will help ensure you are on the right track. It’s important to remember that your financial health is a journey and you will frequently need to re-evaluate.
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