Andrew Rosen, Contributor June 8, 2023 Forbes
No matter how out of shape you feel financially, there are steps you can take to bring yourself back to financial health.
Every morning, wake up and immediately log in to your checking/savings accounts. This is a great healthy habit that accomplishes a handful of things. For starters, it gives you a gut check as to your daily cash position. This can help you make financial decisions on purchases, money transfers, etc.
Additionally, in today’s cybercrime onslaught, you can see if any nefarious activity is happening in your accounts. Usually, if you catch it right away, there is a very good chance the banking institution will refund you the stolen money.
Another simple cash tip: If you tend to keep a decent amount of cash on hand, you should likely have a portion of it in a liquid savings account. Every quarter, it is worth seeing if that savings account is paying you competitive rates. For reference, today you should be seeing savings rates at 4% to 5%. If you’re not, shop around for a different account.
If you are using credit cards, there are plenty of ways to get healthier. Check them weekly to make sure you understand what you are spending and to see if any unauthorized transactions have occurred. Much like your cash accounts, if you catch these quickly enough, almost every credit card will end up refunding you. Plus, you can stop it in time before they really get away with doing serious damage.
If you have credit card debt, devise a plan to pay down these debts each month. Make sure you’re maximizing your credit card points to the best of your ability.
On a monthly/quarterly basis, it is worth understanding what you have and where. Also, are your accounts trending in the general direction of the markets? If markets are up 20% and you are down 10%, it’s time for a new routine. However, if they are trending in a similar direction as the markets, then you are likely on course.
Log into your retirement accounts each month and make sure you are on track to contribute your desired amount. Remember, limits go up each year, and you want to make sure, if you are able, that the percentage being allocated is enough to max out each year.
A large debt like your mortgage can be overwhelming. Each month, after you pay your mortgage, log in to check your new balance. It is therapeutic to watch the balance go down each month.
Try to max out the contributions to your employer-sponsored health savings accounts for the year. These are some of the best dollars to stow away.
Not many people love to budget, but writing down what you spend and where can help you to identify problem areas.
The good news is there is some easy-to-use software that can track this for you with little work on your behalf. That said, these technologies do need some TLC to stay accurate.
Run a full financial model twice a year with the help of a financial planner.
You’ll be astonished at what regular modeling can do to your finances. It will give you confidence that you are trending in the right direction and provide a clear snapshot of your entire financial picture.
If you are not trending in the right direction, it will give you actionable steps to get you back on the right track. It can also motivate you to make the changes necessary to help make all your dreams come true.
Much like working out physically, even your financial health needs a break. You certainly don’t want to neglect it, but don’t beat yourself up too badly if you are a slow starter or need a little extra help.
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