Keep your finances running smoothly with a little routine maintenance
There’s no time like spring to tidy up — and that applies to your finances, too! This year, when you’re clearing out your closets and dusting off the patio furniture, keep the momentum going and freshen up your finances while you’re at it. Here are five tips to get you started.
Refresh your budget
Setting up a budget is one of the best things you can do to improve your financial situation and take control of your money. However, budgeting is not a one-time, set-it-and-forget it undertaking. To perform well, your budget requires regular checkups and maintenance, just like a car. This is especially important when there are significant changes in your life, such as marriage or the birth of a child, or economic changes such as rising prices and increased housing costs.
The good news is that once you’ve created a budget and have the basic framework in place, updating it is relatively easy. Reflect on your budget and think about what’s worked well so far and what could be improved. Also consider any economic or personal changes since you created your budget and make updates as needed.
Check your beneficiaries
It’s also important to periodically review and update the beneficiaries on your life insurance, 401(k), and other financial accounts. Since these accounts often require very little maintenance after the initial setup, it’s easy to overlook the fact that your beneficiaries may be out of date. This is especially important in the event of family changes such as marriage, divorce, the birth of a child, or the death of a close relative, since they can affect who will inherit your assets if you should pass away.
Weed out your subscriptions
Subscription services have taken off in recent years, covering everything from smartphone apps and streaming services to meal kits and toiletries. Unfortunately, “subscribe and save” is often quite the opposite, with unused or unnecessary subscription services creating a silent drain on your bank account month after month. Even if each subscription is only a few dollars, it can add up to a lot over the course of a year. Make it a habit to review your subscriptions regularly, and cancel or downgrade any that are no longer needed.
Review your service agreements
If you’re a longtime customer with the same credit card company, cellphone carrier, internet provider, or insurance company, you might be overdue for some savings. Do a little research and find out what their current rates are, as well as what their competitors are offering. It’s possible you’ll find you’ve locked in a great deal that’s worth holding on to, but it’s just as likely you’re missing out on better rates or packages than what you’re currently getting. If that’s the case, give your provider a call and ask for a better deal. There’s a good chance they’ll be willing to work with you.
Set new financial goals
Life is full of surprises, and you are constantly growing and evolving as a person. With that in mind, it’s a good idea to revisit your financial goals periodically to make sure they still align with your current needs, values, and priorities. You may find that you want to adjust your existing goals or create new ones to replace those that have been achieved or are no longer a priority for you. You may even wish to revisit a goal that you had previously set aside to focus on other things such as changing careers or dealing with an unexpected medical expense. Whatever your circumstances may be, or how they have evolved, take time to reflect on your financial goals so you can be sure you’re focusing on what matters most to you.
The information provided here is general in nature and may not apply to your specific situation.