It’s smart to review your finances regularly. Giving yourself a financial review is a great way to check on the progress you’ve made towards achieving your goals, highlight areas needing improvement and evaluate your accounts, funds and investments. Here are some tips on how to give yourself a financial review.
Step 1: Review all your debts and create a payoff plan
Take a few minutes to list all your debts and their interest rates. Ask yourself how much progress you’ve made towards paying off each debt. For example, if you’ve only been making the minimum payment each month on your credit card bill, the actual balance will pile up since you’re mostly just paying for interest. If your debts need some help, you have two primary options for how to move ahead.
The avalanche method
Focus on paying off the debt with the highest interest rate first, and then continue to the debt with the second-highest interest rate. Move through the list until you’ve paid off all debts.
The snowball method
Work your way through your debts, starting with the lowest-balance debt. Once it’s paid off, apply the same payment you were paying on the first debt to your next lowest debt. Repeat until all debts are paid off.
For both methods, be sure to pay at least the minimum balance on all your other debts each month. Try to boost your income or trim your monthly spending for extra cash and use it towards the first debt you are paying off completely.
If you need more help creating a plan to pay off debts, talk to a Virtual Financial Coach. You’ll receive a personalized action plan for reaching your financial goals through a text-based conversation.
Step 2: Automate your savings
Review your savings over the past year. Have you reached your goals? Have you forgotten to put money into savings each month?
Moving ahead, make it easy by automating your savings. Give us a call to set up an automatic monthly transfer from your checking account to your savings account. You can also set this up through online and mobile banking. This way, you’ll never forget to put money into savings again and you’ll be sure to reach your saving goals.
Step 3: Review the progress on your financial goals
Have you made measurable progress towards reaching your financial goals? Take a few minutes to review your past goals, taking note of your progress and determine how you can improve towards achieving them.
Whether you’re trying to save for a big screen tv, new car or down payment on a new home, you can use one of our free savings calculators to figure out how long it will take you to save for each goal.
Step 4: Review your retirement accounts and investments
As you work through this crucial step, be sure to review the following variables.
- Your employer’s matching contributions. Are you taking advantage of this free money?
- Your other retirement contributions. According to the IRS, the annual IRA (Individual Retirement Account) contribution limit for 2021 is $6,000 or $7,000 if you’re age 50 or older. Visit IRS.gov for more details about IRA contributions.* If you can afford to contribute the max to your IRA, it’s smart to do so. If you can’t afford it right now, set a realistic goal for what you can afford to contribute.
- Your stock/bond ratio and investing style. Decide if you want to take more risks or if you’d rather play it safer this year.
- Your portfolio’s balance. Does it need adjusting?
Step 5: Create an emergency binder
The events of 2020 highlighted the importance of making plans in case the unexpected happens. Create an in-case-of-emergency binder to hold all your important documents in one place in case the unexpected happens. Because of the sensitive nature of the information it holds, be sure to keep it in a safe place where it will not fall into the hands of identity thieves.
Include the following in your binder.
- Medical information
- Account information
- Child care and pet care details
- Online accounts and passwords
- Insurance policy documentation and details
- Investment accounts and details
- A copy of your life insurance policy
- A copy of your living will
- A copy of your last will and testament
Step 6: Set new financial goals
As you finish reviewing your financial progress, look forward to accomplishing greater financial goals in the future. A great way to turn dreams into reality is to set goals that are SMART.
Here are some financial goals you may want to set for the coming year.
- Create a monthly budget. Be sure to include all expense categories. Review monthly and adjust as necessary.
- Review weekly spending one night each week.
- Pay off your largest credit card bill within the next year.
- Start a vacation fund.
- Cut out two subscriptions you don’t really use.
- Slash your weekly grocery bill by 10%.
Giving yourself a regular financial review will help you reach your financial goals. If you’re needing help tracking your spending, setting financial goals or establishing realistic budgets, you can use our free personal financial management tool, My Financial Partner to get started.
*Consult tax advisor for specific tax advice.