Most of us are diligent about maintaining the various aspects of our life. We swap out the batteries on our smoke detectors with regularity; we schedule annual physicals, and get our car’s oil changed based on the manufacturer’s mileage recommendation.
Still, many of us tend to take better care of our cars than we do our financial life.
The irony being, an un-tended financial life can break down just as assuredly as an under-serviced automobile. It can run out of gas, but it can also seize up and need a roadside tow.
In short, a well-examined financial life is worth exploring.
1. Schedule. Set a recurring point in time for an annual look at your income vs. expenses. If you have a financial advisor, he or she will likely conduct reviews and/or send statements with regularity. Even if you do have this resource who evaluates your accounts and portfolio overall, you can still plan your own year-in-review to investigate what you’ve done and what you plan to do. Like any scheduled maintenance – put it on your calendar.
2. Software. If you still use a traditional check register to record expenses and income, it is time to select any one of the hundreds of software programs to do same. They range in complexity, but all have features that allow you to pull reports based on expense type by: payee, date range, etc., so you can take a detailed look at where your money goes.
3. Fees. Look at all your bills – credit card and utility. Would you benefit from consolidating to fewer credit cards? Are there cards that give rewards, cash back? On your cable bill, is your promotional pricing nearing its anniversary date? Should you consider removing services you don’t use or re-upping for another contract? Or do you explore cutting the cable cord to look at streaming services? If you pay your cellular bill consistently, call your provider and ask if you are eligible for any reductions as a long-time customer in good standing.
4. Interest. Take a cursory look at your home’s equity. Does a line of credit or equity loan make sense to take care of expenses that are weighing you down? Or should you refinance to a better interest rate before rates increase? Is it time to downsize, upsize, buy instead of rent?
5. Rates. We tend to stay with the same car insurance provider. However, those rates can fluctuate (sometimes dramatically) from year to year. Shop around and then call your agent to see if keeping your business is worth an adjustment.
6. Consult. Ask friends and trusted colleagues who they recommend as a financial planner. For both long- and short-term goals, you can typically benefit from an expert, un-biased opinion on the strategies that contribute to financial security.
As Americans, we tend to live beyond our means and rely, often too heavily, on credit. Whether it is your very first job and you have the option to participate in the company’s 401k, or are an entrepreneur who has built a business over a lifetime, you owe yourself such introspection.
Consider your goals and the money you need to fulfill them. You will enjoy a well-planned financial life.
The information contained in this article and any other article do not reflect the views of rapid! PayCard®. The opinions, conclusions and other information expressed are neither given nor endorsed by rapid! PayCard® or its representatives, but provided for the sole purpose of presenting updates on current research in this sector.
The rapid! PayCard® blog and any information contained within do not reflect the views of MetaBank® or Mastercard®, nor are they endorsed by MetaBank or Mastercard.