Summer is a great time to relax, take an extended vacation, and spend extra time with family.
While things tend to slow down a little, it’s also a good time to assess your financial picture for the first half of the year. Take a moment to review your goals and see how well you’re staying on track.
And while you’re hanging out with the kids, talk about money management with them. Whether they’re about to go off to college, or they’re bringing in a little extra cash from a summer job, they still need your guidance with how to plan and budget.
Here is a financial checklist for July to help you keep moving forward with your goals, even while you’re enjoying the lazy days of summer.
1. Conduct A Financial Analysis
Now that 2019 is half over (whaaa???), it’s a good idea to check on your progress with the goals you made at the beginning of the year.
Here are a few things you should review:
- Your budget: figure out if your current budget is working well for you. Have you been staying within your budget (for the most part) or do you consistently overspend? Decide if you need to make adjustments moving forward. Having a budget you can keep is essential in reaching your goals.
- Your emergency fund: determine if your current savings will cover 3 to 6 months of expenses. Keep in mind, these expenses are the necessary ones. So, you may want to create a separate budget specifically for your emergency plan – one that doesn’t include discretionary spending. This will help you stretch your emergency fund dollars as far as possible while you get back on your feet. If your fund is low due to withdrawals, make sure you have a plan to build it back up.
- Your goals: review the financial goals you made at the beginning of the year. Are you keeping up with your debt paydown plan? Have you been able to cut expenses and increase cash flow? Now is a good time to evaluate your progress and make adjustments. And, if you haven’t made any goals, read this post for a little inspiration.
Taking the time to make sure you’re progressing in the right direction will keep you connected to your financial goals. The earlier you discover you’re off track, the easier it is to make course corrections. Remember, the important thing is to keep moving forward, so even if you realize you’re nowhere near where you thought you’d be, just refocus and restart!
2. Do A Portfolio Checkup
The closer you get to retirement, the more important it is to keep a watchful eye on your portfolio.
As time gets shorter, you’ll want to make any necessary adjustments to asset allocation, increase your savings rate if possible, and take advantage of catch-up contributions if you’re over 50 years old.
You may also want to meet with a financial advisor to get some needed guidance. A professional will help you figure out a good investment strategy with the appropriate risk level for your age.
Make sure you know where you want to end up by having a written retirement plan that guides your financial decisions. Don’t leave your future to chance!
3. Prepare Your Child For College
It’s an exciting time when your child gets ready to enter into a new season and head off to college. You helped her with scholarship applications, campus visits, and college essays. She got accepted to a great university and soon she’ll be packing her bags for her big move to the dorms.
But before she heads out, it’s a good idea to help her plan financially for college.
Here are a few things to go over before she moves out:
- Preparing a monthly budget. College expenses are much more than just tuition and living expenses. Help your child make a list of monthly expenses that will need to be covered, such as social club dues, travel expenses, eating out and entertainment. Let her know how much income you can provide, and how much she’ll need to come up with through a part-time job. A budget will give her the necessary boundaries to keep her spending within acceptable limits, while also giving her the freedom to still have fun.
- Reviewing the financial aid package. Make sure all scholarships, grants and loans have been submitted and are in order for the upcoming school year. Go over the financial aid award letter so you know how much will need to be provided for. Also, financial aid packages are not set in stone. If you have experienced financial hardship, or realize the cost is a little out of your reach, you can submit an appeal in writing or in person.
- Develop an emergency plan. Put a plan in place for any emergency your child may come up against. This includes making sure she’s covered by the appropriate insurance and has access to emergency funds, such as a credit card. Make sure she has the necessary ID cards to prevent any delays in getting proper care.
- Talk about expectations. Sometimes the newfound freedoms that come with living away from home can lead to poor decisions. Have a discussion with your child about your expectations so she is fully aware and you both are on the same page. Sometimes spelling out potential unpleasant circumstances can be the motivation she needs to choose wisely.
The transition from home to college will likely have a few bumps along the way. Having a solid financial plan will make the journey a little smoother for both you and your child.
4. Plan Large Purchases Around 4th of July Deals
Been dreaming about a larger flat screen or a new grill?
Many retailers will have big sales for the 4th of July holiday. Do a little research online so you can find the best deals and maximize savings.
It may be tempting to take advantage of interest-free loans because the savings are so good, but always pay cash if you can! If you just can’t resist, make sure you have a payment plan in place so the purchase is paid off before the interest kicks in.
5. Teach Your Teens Good Money Management
When your kids reach high school, they may be ready to get a part-time job. The summer is an ideal time to do this since school is out and homework isn’t an issue.
This is a great opportunity to teach them good financial habits!
No matter how small their paychecks, they can still learn how to budget, have financial goals, give a portion to charity, and even invest a little.
Unfortunately, teens rarely learn these lessons in school. They need their parents to teach them the importance of saving early and being financially responsible.
With your guidance, they can learn wise money management skills that will serve them for their entire lives.
Plan Your Checklist
My daughter reminded me today that Christmas is only six months away. She asked if we could skip it this year, just to make it feel like we could actually stretch time! (Of course, when Christmas comes, she won’t feel this way anymore!)
We all know there is no way to extend time. Everyone has 24 hours a day, no more and no less. Time just keeps ticking away, stopping for no one.
That’s why it’s so important to have a plan and a purpose for your time. You can either crush your goals over the next five years, or still be in the same financial rut. Either way, you’ll be five years older!
Implement some (or all) of the ideas on this month’s financial checklist into your plan to help you reach your goals.
Make the most of your time and your money now, so someday you can make the most of your retirement!