It's here! Summer that is. What a great time to get out there and spent time with the family.
Did you know that according to an eZonomics online poll summer is the season in which Americans spend the most money. Winter is a close second due to the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays.
No worries though!
I am here to arm you with a 5-Point Summer Financial Checklist that is guaranteed to help you through this expensive season.
1. Examine your budget
One of the easiest ways to save money during the summer is to revisit your budget, assuming you have one. Now I know that no one, except for weird people like me, like budgets but if you don't control where your money goes, it will control you.
So the first place to start is with your budget. If you don't have one there is no easier place to start than with your client website which allows you to set one up almost effortlessly. If you have one, it's time to dust it off.
Once you have your budget, here are the places to focus:
2. Look at Your retirement plan contributions
Have you been putting money aside each month for retirement? While saving any amount is better than saving nothing at all, now's the time to see if you can up those contributions.
Even a small increase can go a long way toward helping you meet your retirement goals. Imagine you're currently allocating $200 a month to your 401(k) and your present balance is $5,000. Assuming your investments generate an average annual return of 8% (which is feasible with a stock-heavy portfolio), after 30 years, you'll have an ending balance of $322,000, which is not bad at all.
But watch what happens when you increase that monthly contribution to $250. All other things being equal, that extra $50 a month will help you grow your balance to $390,000 -- a $68,000 difference.
3. Check up on your investments
Summer is a great time to have a mid-year review. This bull market is not getting any younger and maybe it's time to adjust your asset allocation to account for the added risk that cycle ends can bring.
Have there been any changes in your goals, family or circumstances? These changes should be reflected in your investment allocation so that you can hopefully meet these new goals or circumstances.
4. Adjust your tax withholding or estimated taxes if necessary
Summer is a great time to review where you are versus where you expected to be. If your income is higher or lower than expected, now might be a great time to adjust your salary or wage withholding or, if applicable, your quarterly estimated tax payment amount.
Wouldn't you agree that extra money could come in handy now vs. filing for a refund next year?
If you are pay too much, and you're essentially loaning the government a portion of your hard-earned money for free. If you are paying to little, you may find it hard to come up with the funds later in the year to pay the taxman what you owe. It is a lot easier to pay small increases over the balance of the year than a larger lump sum come January or April.
5. Consider an insurance review
I know that no one likes insurance, but it does deliver peace of mind. However, many times insurance policy premium increases are automatic and over time they become expensive relative to what a new provider might charge for the same policy.
A classic example is auto insurance. Every few years, you have to shop it!
When you do you will find out that the market is so competitive that you are bound to save money. Money that can help pay for that most expensive time of the year, which is why we are doing this in the first place.
Bundling auto, home and flood can also many times save you money.
So now it's up to you. I hope this brief 5-Point Summer Financial Checklist puts more money in your pocket in what is otherwise the most expensive time of the year!
Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!
Written by: Jeff Diercks