7 min read
October 16th, 2020
The To-Do List for Financial Planning
No two people view financial security the same.
Perhaps one individual views financial success as being able to retire early, while another sees it as the ability to send their kids to college debt-free.
Whatever the motivation may be, there are several steps one must take to plan for a bright financial future. Let’s take a look at the basic checklist to follow:
Use this basic checklist to create healthier financial habits and increase your long-term success rate. While it may not be a perfect fit at first, these plans are intended to be flexible and work with your changing lifestyle.
- Review your spending and formulate a budget. Get a solid understanding of how you are allocating your income and take note of the spending categories that are eating up your money. Is cable TV running you a hefty bill each month? Consider discontinuing the service and trying out a cheaper online streaming option. Cutting down on the more frivolous expenses will help to make room for excess cash.
- Create an emergency fund. Typically an emergency fund will consist of three to six months worth of living expenses. Should you lose your job, face a family emergency, or experience an economic crisis, this account will act as a safety net for you. Use a high-interest savings account to hold this money in.
- Pay off credit. Take on credit card debt head-first. If you do not pay your bills month-to-month, the expenses will pile on to the next period, causing you to enter a black hole of debt. Start by paying off your highest interest rate cards first and work your way down to the smaller rate cards.
- Maximize your benefits. If your employer offers 401k, yesterday was the time to start investing in it. If you are lucky enough to have an employer who will match your contributions, make sure you contribute enough to maximize the match. Alternatively, contribute to a Roth IRA account and try to meet the $6,000 max contribution each year. Even if you cannot max out these accounts, remember the old saying “a dollar saved is a dollar earned!”
- Pay off other debts. After paying off your credit cards, consider other large liabilities such as student loans and your mortgage. With rates at record lows, now is a good time to explore refinancing options.
- Adjust to fit your lifestyle. Once you find a plan that works for you, stick with it for at least six months. Then review the strategies in this financial checklist and see if there are adjustments to be made. Perhaps you got a promotion at work and are receiving greater income than anticipated– now is the time to throw some extra bucks in that emergency account then the remaining to your investments. Lifestyle creep can drastically hinder financial progress.