Set Financial Goals this Summer
Tips and Tricks to Stay Financially Fit
Summer is on the horizon, and the start of a new season is always a good time to refresh your finances and set financial goals. Below we’ll discuss six ways you can clean up your habits, take positive steps forward, and enter the season with more control over your financial future.
1. Review Your Spending
Maybe you started the year with a solid budget or an intense focus on your savings goals, but have your spending habits set you up for success? All too often, our little expenses add up. It’s easy to indulge a bit too often in your favorite fancy coffee or to grab takeout every day for lunch, but it’s important that you don’t let your spending throw you off course. Take this time to review whether you need to tighten up your budget. This doesn’t mean completely cutting out the things you love most, but it does mean setting aside a certain amount for indulgences. Keep your savings and other long-term financial goals at the front of your mind and ensure your spending habits aren’t turning into roadblocks.
2. Reduce Your Monthly Bills
It’s not possible to completely avoid paying ongoing monthly bills, but have you taken advantage of opportunities to reduce them? Every few months, it’s a good idea to identify whether you can renegotiate the price of things like your internet or phone bills. Take advantage of competition in the marketplace and see whether you can save by switching companies – or even by simply telling your current provider you’re thinking of switching. You may be surprised by the results!
You have even more opportunities to reduce your monthly spending by reviewing your non-essential monthly bills. For example, do you truly use all the streaming services you pay for?
3. Organize Your Financial Information
Can you easily locate important financial documents? What about passwords and account numbers for your digital accounts? If your financial organization system is in need of a refresh, there’s no time like the present. Tackle those piles of overflowing papers first, keeping the must-haves like tax returns and pension statements. Try to pare back everything else to just the last few statements or convert them into electronic format with a scanner so they can be stored digitally. Then, make sure any existing and new digital files are properly labeled and organized. It will be much easier to find what you need, and you’ll reduce clutter, too.
4. Set Financial Goals
Hopefully, you already have both short-term and long-term financial goals that you’re actively working towards. If so, review each of them now and ask yourself two questions:
- Does this goal still make sense for me?
- Do I have a plan to make progress on it?
If you find yourself answering no, it’s okay! It’s normal for goals to change as our lives evolve, so reassessing is simply part of the process. If you find yourself needing to change your goals – or create new ones altogether – start by thinking about what you want to achieve over the next 6-12 months. Then, consider where you’d like to be in five, ten, or even twenty years. Studies show that putting your goals in writing contributes to success in achieving them, so put pen to paper and document the specifics.
5. Review Your Credit Report
Don’t forget that you can review your credit report annually for free. In addition, many credit cards offer credit-check services for customers, so login to your accounts and see what perks you have access to. Checking your credit periodically is a smart way to ensure there are no errors that are hurting your credit, and that you haven’t been a victim of identity theft. Checking your credit report is also a great way to help with your goal setting. For instance, maybe you notice that your credit utilization is high, and you decide to tackle your debts more quickly using the avalanche method or the snowball method.
6. Solidify Your Budget
When you’re focused on reviewing your spending, trimming monthly expenses, goal setting and more, it just makes sense to rethink your budget, too. If you already have a system in place, consider whether you’ve been able to stick to it. If not, work to create a budget that is more realistic for your lifestyle. If you’re not used to living by a budget, summer is a great time to take a new budget for a test-drive. If you aren’t sure where to start, use the popular 50/30/20 approach as a baseline. This method involves using 50% of your income on necessary bills and expenses, allowing for 30% to be spent on non-essentials, and putting the remaining 20% into savings. If those numbers aren’t quite right for you, do the math and determine what makes sense for your current situation and put your budget in writing (or use a popular app like Mint or Personal Capital.)
Get into the Habit of Seasonal Financial Refreshes
Reviewing and refreshing your finances is a smart habit to cultivate and doing it with the seasons will help to keep it on your radar. When you regularly remind yourself of what you’re working toward – and whether you’re making progress – you can stay in control of your financial health now and into the future.
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