At the end of a year, I always feel a bit unraveled in my financial life and love the opportunity of a fresh start to check in with everything. I use the list below to address items annually.
1. Check in with your net worth. Login to your Blueleaf (if you are a Capstone client) account to see the balances of your accounts. Don’t forget to add accounts from other institutions (investment, savings, or retirement accounts) to that program so that everything in one place. If you aren’t a Capstone client (yet) there are tons of online tools such as Status Money. Also, consider other assets you have including property or insurance policies. While it feels better to only look at assets, it is important to consider what you owe (liabilities) including your mortgage, car loans, student loans, credit cards, or other. While helping you with this is part of the service we offer you, if you would like to do it yourself and need a template let us know and we will send one along.
• Hint: If you track this every year you will notice an improvement if you keep the end in mind. Ideally, your liabilities will decrease and your assets will increase.
2. Take a hard look at your liabilities. How are you doing paying these off? Do you need extra encouragement or help planning an attack? Is paying off your home something that you want to accomplish? Make a plan on how you will address the money you owe.
• Hint: Ask for help! There are tons of resources and even friends can act as an accountability tool in keeping on track to pay down debt.
3. Create a spending plan! I started referring to my family’s budget as a “spending plan.” “Budget” suggests that resources are scarce and limited, thus I am limited. Using the term “spending plan” allows me to view my resources in terms of abundance and I get to determine how I would like to spend the resources I have and make sure that is reflective of my family’s values. I like to create a monthly budget. It requires that my family check-in every month with our goals and progress. It also keeps us “in-check” so we aren’t going bananas with extra spending and helps us plan for expenses we anticipate. I often help clients start this process. I love it! Please let me know if you would like help or a coach in the process. There are plenty of simple templates and online tools to use that I can share.
• Hint: Again, ask for help. Different tools stick with different people. Ask around to see what those around you use and give something a try for three months. You can do anything for three months.
4. Get real with saving! Save at least 10% of your income every year. Use this money to establish an emergency fund, pay down debt, or contribute to your retirement plan. If you already have an emergency fund and no debt maximize contributions to retirement accounts such as 401k plans and Roth IRAs. If you can’t afford to maximize your 401k, contribute at least enough to qualify for your employer’s match, if available.
• Hint: If you are already contributing to your retirement consider increasing it a percentage. Or, if you qualify, open a Roth. Your future self with love you.
5. Take a look at your insurance coverage so that you have adequate coverage. You might find that you don’t have enough or you are paying for insurance you no longer need.
• Hint: Do a comprehensive review when major life changes occur or every three years.
6. Review your estate plan. If you don’t have a will, perhaps it is time? If you do have one, review it and decide if there are any changes that need to be made. Review your beneficiaries on all of your accounts.