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Midyear Financial Checkup

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We all do it.  At the beginning of every New Year we make our list of New Year’s resolutions.  We vow to get in shape, make more time for ourselves, save more money… you get the picture.  But often times, by February 1st all of our good intentions have fallen by the wayside and we are back to our old habits. Once again, we are waiting for our next paycheck, the next month, or January 1st to REALLY implement the changes we want to make in our lives.  Well folks, half the year is over.  If you want to make some changes before December 31st, so you’re not looking back with regrets, the time is now.   

At the top of many New Year’s resolutions there is one that deals with finance; saving more, paying down debt, improving your credit score are some examples.  In January, Apprisen sent out a list of 20 Personal Financial Tips to help you achieve your goals.  You can view them here. These can be very helpful when you are beginning to think about your saving, spending and credit issues.  But now that we are midway through the year, there are other considerations that you need to be thinking about.

  • Check Your Insurance Rates – Paying your auto or home insurance is a routine occurrence. You get the bill, you pay it.  Often times, the rates increase and you don’t even realize it.  This is the perfect time to get out your policies, so you are comparing apples to apples, and call around for new quotes. Insurance companies want your business and you might be surprised at how much you could be saving by switching carriers.   

  • Check on your retirement plan - If you have a company-sponsored 401(k) plan, make sure you’re enrolled and contributing enough to get the full company match. Consider increasing your deposit to this account by one percent, you would be surprised how little this would affect your paycheck but could make a significant difference when you retire. If you don’t have a company 401(k) plan or want to save more for retirement consider an Individual Retirement Account.

  • Update your tax profile - If you’ve gotten married or divorced, had a child, changed jobs, or suffered a pay cut, your tax withholdings could be inaccurate and you could be paying too much or too little. You can go to the IRS website, irs.gov, and use their withholding calculator to get an estimated tax for this year. If you find that you are paying too much or to little ask your employer for a new W-4. 

  • Check Your Flexible Spending Account - Do a quick review of your flexible spending account. Find out how much you’ve contributed this year and tally up how much you’ve spent so far. Since we’re six months into the year, you should be halfway through your FSA account by now. If you’re not, stock up or make a plan to get through that money by December 31st.

  • Review Your Spending Plan – If you are following a budget, now is a good time to review it.  If you are not following a budget, this is a GREAT time to begin one. Are you spending more or less than what you allotted for food and entertainment?  Have the little incidentals you have purchased left you short at the end of the month? A good exercise would be to track your expenses for a few weeks to see where you are spending and use that information to update your spending plan.  

  • Put Your Utilities on a Level Payment Plan – With the summer heat pounding down on us, your air conditioner is getting a workout and the electric bill is skyrocketing. Call your utility provider and ask about their level payment plan. They will evaluate your usage for the past year and average that out over the 12 months. The benefit is that you have the same payment every month and won’t be surprised with a large bill. November is a good time to call your gas provider to get on their level payment plan before your heating bills go up.

  • Plan for the Holidays – They will be here before you know it.  Determine your budget based on who you are buying for, food, travel, entertainment, decorations, postage, etc., and start saving.  If possible, start shopping now.  It will give you time to look for deals as well as purchase that perfect something without all the holiday stress.

Your New Year’s resolution can be resurrected and fulfilled.  Think of the accomplishment you will feel when you are making next year’s resolutions knowing that you succeeded this year.  It’s not too late and don’t give up. Whether you are trying to lose weight our build your savings, it is one step at a time,  but you can’t get there unless you start! 

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