Can you believe it’s August already? Schools across Georgia are back in session after a couple of very trying years, football season should soon be back in its “real” form (hooray!) and then we’ll be anticipating a more festive holiday season than the last one.
In the midst of a somewhat difficult year, it’s important to keep your mind on the important basics of life, including your finances. Have you thought about taking a few minutes for a mid-year financial check-up? Now is the perfect time to be sure you’re on track or to make some changes to finish 2021 on a high note.
Two of the most common New Year’s resolutions made are saving more and spending less/reducing debt so that’s a good place to start:
- Take a look at your bank statements, retirement account statements and/or statements from your financial planner and compare where you are now to where you were at the start of the year. Are your balances up or down? If they’re up, are you satisfied with the growth or do you need to accelerate your contributions? If they’re down, do you know where the money went? Maybe you made withdrawals for planned expenses or an emergency or did the money just get spent? Planned and/or emergency withdrawals are one thing, simply spending the money with no plan or record can lead to financial difficulties down the road.
- If your balances are down and there’s no apparent reason, take a few minutes to review your spending habits for the first part of the year. Are you spending too much on dining out or shopping because of a desire to get back to “normal” or simply just out of excitement about being able to resume long-delayed life events? Do you need to create a written budget to help curb spending on “wants” versus “needs” and track where your money is going?
- Is there a large expense coming up in the near future for which you should be saving now? Maybe there’s a wedding in your future or a dream vacation. If you haven’t started setting aside money for that event yet, why not start now? Even setting aside a small amount on a regular basis will make a positive difference.
- If you have a large amount of debt, setting interim goals can help you keep going in the right direction. Whether that goal is to pay off one loan or credit card bill completely or to knock down a student loan by $5,000, having something definite in mind and then hitting that milestone will go a long way toward keeping you energized and motivated. As you reach the goal, take a moment to reward yourself for your accomplishment.
- Finally, if you’re happy with your current situation, congratulations! Keep up the good work! If not, there’s still time to make some changes to finish the year strong. Create that written budget, speak with a financial planner, arrange to have savings deposits automatically deducted from your paycheck or maybe even look at a part-time job. Whatever you decide, you’ll know you’re taking steps toward a stronger financial future which is a good thing for all concerned!
Stay safe and well!