How do you gain financial freedom?
Same way you eat an elephant. One bite at a time.
Actually, that’s kinda gross now that I write it. But it’s just a way of saying that you can accomplish any huge goal by tackling all the smaller tasks that are associated with it.
I post my own weekly progress updates to this blog, and that has been really helpful for me personally. But I thought I’d put together a monthly financial checklist for anyone who needs a little extra direction for their own finances. Each of these tasks can get you one tiny step closer to strengthening your financial position.
1. Prepare Your Taxes
Of course, you have until April 15th to file your taxes, but it’s best to not put it off until the last minute (which I’m totally guilty of most years). Mostly because of the tax law changes that have gone into effect that might cause some confusion and delay in getting them done.
But there are other benefits as well, such as preventing fraud and getting your return back sooner. I’ll be doing ours this week because I want to know how much we’ll get back for our summer vacation!
2. Review Your Insurance Coverage
Monsoon season starts in July here in Denver. A few years back there were some damaging floods around the city and everybody started talking about flood insurance. We never had to consider flooding when we lived in Vegas, so this was a new thing for us.
I found out that most standard policies don’t automatically include flood insurance – so if you want it, you may need to ask for it. Check your homeowner’s policy now so you’ll be prepared when you need it. And be aware that there can be a 30-day window before it goes into effect.
3. Get Those Contributions In
If you have a traditional IRA, then you probably know that you can deduct qualified contributions from your taxable income, which reduces your overall tax bill. In fact, contributions you make up until April 15 will count toward your 2018 federal income taxes. If you’re younger than 50, then your limit is $5,500 for the year. If you’re 50 or older, you can contribute up to $6,500.
April 15th is also the contribution deadline for a 2018 health savings account (HSA). Limits depend on your age and coverage, so check with your health insurance company to confirm the maximum amount you can contribute.
4. Prepare A Summer Budget
It feels like the year just started and summer is so far away, but it will be here before you know it!
For us, the summer months are tight because my husband doesn’t get as much overtime. I don’t bring in any income because there are no sub teaching jobs in the summer. But it’s also when we typically take our family vacation, pay for scout camp, go on more family outings, as well as celebrate three birthdays. So, if we don’t want to be draining our savings, we need to plan months in advance.
Create a summer calendar by marking all the dates for vacation, special outings, birthdays, weddings, and other planned events. This will not only help you plan for a fun and full summer, but you’ll also have a visual of what you need to budget for.
Other things you’ll need to consider in the summer months is a higher water bill and electric bill (ugh), and spending more on groceries and gas.
Now is the time to think of how you’ll budget for summer so you’ll be ready for those extra expenses!
5. Review Your 2019 Financial Goals
Well, it’s been two months since you made all those resolutions. How’s it working for you?
Are you on track, or have you lost your motivation?
It’s not too late to pull out that list of goals you had written down in that flurry of inspiration and get back to it!
If you’ve lost some steam, maybe make a vision board and put it up where you’ll pass by it every day. Or share your goals with a trusted friend who will hold you accountable.
If you’re still plugging away, now’s the time to review your progress. Is what you’re doing making a positive difference? Can you measure your progress? What needs to be adjusted? Is your budget working for you?
Don’t feel like you have to stick with your original plan. If you feel stuck or you’re just not moving forward fast enough, make some changes and see how it goes. Keep a journal of what’s working and what’s not. Measure your progress and make adjustments when necessary.
Plan Your Checklist
So now you have five ways to help strengthen your finances this month. Maybe you can think of more, but I find that I need to keep my checklists short or else I blow them off too easily.
Now you just have to do them. So be intentional about planning your checklist. Write these tasks in your planner or calendar, and dedicate time to actually getting them done.
Just remember, it’s never too late to start working towards your goals.
The important thing is to keep moving forward, one step at a time, towards financial freedom!