Do you remember when in January you had all these SMART goals that you planned to execute? How have you fared? Have you made any progress? It’s time to take some time to review where you stand financially. Half way through the year is a good time to reflect on your goals and plans, take stock, and see if you have lived up to your own expectations. You may have done quite well in some areas but fallen behind in others. By going through this process, you can identify any nagging issues and plan to adjust slightly or you might even need to change direction if necessary.
If you find that you are even worse off than you were in January, don’t panic; you certainly are not alone. The key is to know where you stand financially so you can start to address it. Try to make some time, before the end of June to do a health check of your finances. If you’ve made some progress in even two or three of the goals below, that is progress. Let us know how you’ve fared.
Did you put a budget in place?
A budget is one of the hardest things to put in place yet it is one of the most important steps to take in addressing personal financial issues. Do you have a clear idea of how much you are spending each week, or month? Have you tracked your expenses for a period and developed a clear picture of where you can cut back? You can use one of many online tools or just simply get out a pad of paper and track your expenses manually. You can’t make much progress if you don’t know where all your money is going.
Have you reduced your debt?
Don’t ignore or wish away your debt. It must come under control for you to be able to move forward with your financial goals. Are you carrying less debt today than you did on January 1st? The general rule of thumb and the fastest way to reduce your debt is to tackle your highest interest rate debt first. By automating your debt payments and making incremental principal payments each month, you will soon find your debt will begin to come under control. If you are really struggling, approach your lender and discuss the possibilities for rescheduling to make it more manageable.
Are you building your savings?
If you have not got a budget in place and you haven’t paid any attention to your debt, it will be difficult for you to save at all; they are all connected. It makes no sense to save if the interest on your debt is much higher than what you receive on savings.
Have you saved at all since January? How much do you save each month? If you’ve not saved at all, now is the time to get back on track. Remember the end of the year usually comes with extra expenses in the form of travel, and holiday expenses. Start preparing for those expenses now.
Work towards saving 20% of your income depending of course on your circumstances. If you are suddenly faced with unexpected job loss, major car repairs, or medical expenses, will you be able to cope? Did you build an emergency fund to fall back on? The easiest way to start to grow your savings is to automate it by putting a direct debit in place so that you won’t be tempted to spend all your income but rather it can be directed to an appropriate savings vehicle. Most mutual fund companies make it easy for you to be able to automate your savings and investment plan.
Have you made a will?
Too many people avoid dealing with their mortality because thinking about death makes them feel uncomfortable. However, dying without a will, or a will that is out-of date, can cost your loved ones so much pain and throw away decades of hard work. Knowing that your young children will be cared and provided for should anything happen to you, will give you a huge sense of relief.
If you already have a will, when last did you review it and update it to make sure you have included any recently acquired assets or new beneficiaries? Circumstances change. Perhaps your assets have grown or shrunk? Maybe you have had children or grandchildren or have become divorced or widowed since you wrote your last will.
How is your nest egg looking?
Do a quick assessment on how well you’re preparing for retirement. Your Retirement Savings Account is important but cannot sustain you in retirement; it should supplement your other savings and investments. You should be building a diversified portfolio that consists of a mix of asset classes including cash, stocks, bonds, property and business interests.
Have you invested in yourself?
Have you improved your human capital, your greatest asset? When last did you attend a seminar or a course to develop your skills and intellect? You can considerably improve your long-term prospects through personal development.
Have you taken steps to safeguard your health through a sensible diet and exercise? By maintaining good health or taking active steps to improve it, you could save yourself significant health and medical costs in future and be in a position to fully enjoy any wealth that you have accumulated far into the future.
Your financial situation cannot improve on is own; it needs consistent deliberate action over several years to attain financial security. If you are not where you want to be, don’t worry; you can get things back on track if you just get started!