Remember those financial resolutions you committed to at the beginning of the year? If they seem like a distant memory, the start of summer can be a great time for a reset. Follow the tips below to refocus on your financial goals during the dog days of summer.
1. Start with a clean slate. Review your financial situation and recent spending patterns. Is your spending aligned with your financial goals? Re-evaluate any bad money habits that may be holding you back from making better financial decisions. Remind yourself that healthy financial behaviors can become part of your daily routine.
2. Commit to financial stability. It’s easier to do something when you are intentional. Just like you set aside an afternoon to clean out the garage, set aside a few hours to clean up your finances. During this time, reflect, organize and make a conscious commitment to take responsibility for your financial future.
3. Create, update or review your plan of action. A financial plan provides a road map for spending and saving, and encourages you to allocate your money toward the items or experiences that matter most to you. Your plan should include how you will handle your day-to-day finances, achieve long-term goals such as paying off your home mortgage, retiring on your terms or going on your dream vacation. If a large expense comes along, you may need to re-evaluate your financial priorities. Adjust as necessary and then get back on track as soon as possible. Likewise, if you receive a raise or windfall, consider how the additional funds can be applied to your financial plan.
4. Spend within reason. Your plan can provide you with guardrails to keep long-term goals in sight as you satisfy near-term wants and needs. When you know your emergency fund, retirement and other goals are on track, you can purchase tickets to the big game or plan a family trip without any financial guilt.
5. Prepare for the unexpected. Life can throw challenging curveballs. Unexpected events such as unplanned medical bills or losing your job can greatly impact your bottom line. Although you may not know when these curveballs are coming, assess your insurance policies to ensure you’re fully covered, and make an “emergency fund” one of your priorities. Consider reviewing your life, disability health, home and auto insurance policies with a financial professional, who can help you identify and close any gaps in coverage. If you’ve acquired artwork, collectibles, technology or other valuables, make sure they are covered under your current home insurance plan. Also, use this as a time to update beneficiaries on your policies if needed.
6. Find joy in the process. The desire to keep your finances in good order is an admirable aspiration, and it has lasting impacts. Focusing on your finances today may help you to secure a more comfortable financial future for you and your family tomorrow. Consider working with a financial professional to help create a plan to reach your goals. With renewed energy and a well-defined plan, you can feel good about your financial choices.
Scott D. Serfass, CFP®, CRPC®, CDFA™, CLU®, ChFC® is a financial advisor and senior partner of Serfass, Phillips & Associates, a financial advisory practice of Ameriprise Financial Services, Inc. His team specializes in helping people retire confidently and develop a plan to effectively share wealth across multiple generations. Throughout his career, he has witnessed many families continue to grow despite global and economic turmoil. This experience and research paved the way for his book, Family Success.