As you enter 2019, it’s a good time to take a closer look at your financial well-being. What do you want to accomplish this year? Next year? What changes can you make to be more financially fit? Focus on these areas for your complete annual financial check-up:
- Your budget. Take a realistic look at your budget to make sure you’re on track to accomplish your financial goals. Where do you stand? Have you calculated your monthly spending? Are your spending habits balanced with your income ? Are your financial goals still realistic? Do you need to make cuts or adjust your budget to meet your existing needs or goals? Have you experienced any life changes this past year (job loss, marriage, divorce, empty nest, etc.)? Discuss your budget with those living in your household to make sure everyone’s on the same page and ready for the New Year.
- Your debt. Take a look at how much debt you have – credit cards, mortgage loan, auto loans, personal loans, etc. Have you been able to pay down your balances regularly? Have you calculated a debt payoff goal? If not, consider ways you can pay down these loans faster, so you spend less on interest payments. Perhaps you could consider refinancing your mortgage or start to pay down your high-interest credit cards. These strategies can help free up needed funds to pay down your other debt – allowing you to then save more money throughout the year.
- Your insurance coverage. All of us carry many different insurance policies – auto, home and life insurance to name a few. Review the terms and conditions of your policies with a trusted insurance agent to ensure you have the coverage you need at a good price.
- Your taxes. Did you take full advantage of your tax deductions last year? Now’s a great time to meet with a trusted CPA to review what you can do this year and beyond to maximize your tax savings.
- Your credit report. Each year you can get your free credit report by visiting www.annualcreditreport.com. Review it for accuracy and report any errors to one of the three national credit bureaus. Discuss ways to improve your credit score with a financial advisor or lender, and then set some goals to help you do so. The higher your credit score, the less money you’ll spend over time repaying your loans.
- Your estate plan. Review your estate plan, especially if you’ve had any major life changes. Update the details of your plan if necessary – beneficiaries, executor, power of attorney(s), etc. Check to ensure it covers the distribution of all your assets as well as any end-of-life determinations. If you don’t currently have an estate plan, it’s a good time to meet with your financial advisor or attorney to get started.
- Your subscriptions and contracts. Each year you will likely renew subscriptions or contracts for such things as cable television, Internet service, cell phones, etc. If the price of any of these services has increased, call the company to find out why and try to negotiate a better deal. If you can’t get the deal you want, it may be time to make a change. Research your options and be prepared to switch services if it’s a better deal for you and your family.
Being financially fit not only helps you monetarily, but there could be physical and mental benefits as well – less stress, more time to spend on things you enjoy, and so much more. Whether you only need a few minor tweaks or a financial overhaul, now is the time to make it happen. The best way to get started is to meet with a trusted advisor. You’ll be able to set or adjust your goals and create strategies to help you reach your peak financial health.
© BancorpSouth 2019