Financial Checklist: 5 Steps to Improve Your Financial Health
It’s easy to put off doing an analysis of your finances. We put our heads down, work hard and let our paychecks, bills and contributions run on autopilot. But your finances are just like your body — they’ll be healthiest with proactive, preventive care and regular check-ups. Use this personal finance checklist to learn finance essentials and ensure you’re taking the right steps to meet your money goals.
5 TASKS TO ADD TO YOUR FINANCIAL CHECKLIST
- Create a Realistic Budget
Step one: Make a monthly budget. Step two: Stick to it. Easy right? Not always. It’s up to you to track every expense — everything from a vending machine snack to your mortgage or rent. While it’s easy to account for regular expenditures, others fluctuate. Review your budget every week using a tool like Mint or EveryDollar to stay on track.
Goal: Meet your budget three months in a row, then reassess.
- Build an Emergency Fund
As you create and update your monthly budget, create a line item for your emergency fund — and prioritize it. Keep this money at the ready in a savings account. If you’re the family’s sole earner or work in a more volatile industry, aim for a fund with six months’ worth of living expenses. (This is where reviewing your budget also comes in handy.)
Goal: Build an emergency fund with three to six months’ worth of expenses.
- Pay Off Short-term Debt
The key to a smart debt-free plan is to make more than the minimum payment. You might have multiple sources of debt, including a car loan or credit card balances — start with the one with the highest interest. Think through how much you can reasonably pay to the principal balance every month, without skimping on your emergency and retirement funds. You can pay the minimum balance on the rest of your debts until the highest interest debt is paid. Then roll all the money you were putting toward that payment to your new highest interest debt.
Goal: Pay off your highest-interest loan first, then repeat.
- Prioritize Your Retirement Plan
No matter your age, you should be contributing to your retirement fund. If your employer matches investments — 6% of your pre-tax annual income, for example — financial advisors recommend you contribute at least that amount. A good rule of thumb is to invest 10-15% of your income to your 401(k) each year; you’ll likely want to increase that percentage, if possible, as you get closer to retirement age.
Goal: Shoot for having twice your salary invested by age 35, and four to five times your salary by 55.
- Update Your Insurance Policies
Did you get married this year? Retire? Buy a new car or RV? It’s important your insurance is up to date with your life’s major milestones. Your local Farm Bureau agent can help tailor your coverage — just schedule your annual SuperCheck.
Goal: Review your insurance policies to ensure the coverage is still what’s best for you and your family.
We’re Here to Help
If you’re looking for an expert to help you meet your financial goals — Farm Bureau is here to help. Get in touch with one of our experienced financial advisors to get the help you need to achieve financial success.
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