It’s time for a mid-year financial check-up.
Just like your car or home needs to be maintained, so do your personal finances. It only takes a few moments to do a financial check-up and those few moments can tell you if you’re on track or if you need to tighten the belt a bit.
Questions to Ask During a Financial Check-Up
This financial check-up assumes that you are already dutifully tracking your expenses and monitoring your income. If you’re not doing those, then this check-up is your wake up call to START. You absolutely must know how much money comes in and out of your life if you are going to be in control of it enough to reach your goals. I highly recommend You Need a Budget and it’s accompanying budget training.
1. What’s different from 6 months ago? Take a look at your budget and see what’s different now. Have you been able to save money? Have you paid off debt? Why or why not?
2. What are you doing well? Pay attention to your successes. They can encourage you to do more. Whenever I can look at my savings and see it has grown, I know I am doing something right and it motivates me to build on that success.
3. What areas in your budget are problems for you? For example, whenever I look at my budget, I know that eating out is my biggest weakness and is an area I need to work on. Your trouble area may be entertainment or clothing. It’s important to notice those problem areas so that you can take steps to improve on them.
4. How is your emergency fund and long-range savings doing? You must establish an emergency fund for the unexpected and try to set aside money for your future retirement. Do you have adequate insurance to protect you if something happens? If you’ve never done those things, it’s time to take steps to do those things. If you are, it is important for you to review those accounts to make sure they are being adequately funded and properly invested.
5. What do you need to do for your finances in the next six months? Using what you have learned from the earlier questions in this check-up and considering what will occur in your life in the next six months, you can begin to establish new personal fianncial goals. For example, you may determine that you will need to boost your emergency fund, or begin to save money for Christmas. You may determine that you need to go to the library to find good resources on budgeting and investing.
How our mid-year financial check-up went
Without going into the nitty-gritty dollar amount specifics, I thought I’d share my answers to this little check-up.
First, what’s different from six months ago? Well, I made an effort to stop making this big budgeting mistake and as a result, we have stopped our backwards overspending slide and have been able to replenish a large part of our depleted savings.
I think I am very good at tracking expenditures regularly. I always have plenty of data from which to see my financial successes and failures. In the last 6 months, I have been doing a better job of keeping our grocery bill in check, thanks to reducing food waste and making more things from scratch. I have also been doing a better job of buying less, making do with what we have, and when we do buy, buying secondhand whenever possible.
Eating out is still a major weakness of mine- especially in the hot summer months when the whole family is off from school. I’m trying to learn more copycat recipes of my favorite restaurant dishes and I have been challenging myself to try new foods.
We currently have a six-month emergency fund in place and have been regularly contributing to our retirement accounts. Unfortunately, we have not had much success in establishing a vehicle replacement fund for our two aging vehicles. It seems like whenever we start to tuck money away for a new car, one (or both) vehicles ends up needing a costly repair.
For the next six months, we will continue to tuck away as much money into savings for the car replacement fund as we can. My husband and I will both be exploring some ways we can bring in some extra cash. We’ll also start shopping for the Christmas holiday season.
We’re doing okay, but there are always things we could be doing better.
The longer that I work on my personal finances, the more I realize that managing your money is more about mindset than actual money. I’ve learned that attitude is much more important to personal finance than how much cash is in your accounts. If your mid-year check-up wasn’t so hot, determine what emotions were a factor. Then work on how you can change your attitude to avoid a repeat of the same mistakes in the next six months.
Have you done your mid-year financial check-up? What things have you learned?
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