August is National Wellness Month, and while many think to focus on implementing self-care or health routines, don’t forget that financial health is a crucial part of wellness, too!
This month is a great opportunity to revisit goals before the demands of busy fall schedules and the craziness of the holiday season. Summertime is also a good time to get organized before the kids start the school year.
If you find that you haven’t been on track in the first part of the year, doing a financial check-in now gives you enough time to course correct. If you’re a parent, it also gives you an opportunity to involve your kids in ways that will help them build a strong foundation of financial knowledge.
Review your budget and your calendar
Are you on track to meet your goals? Start with the items in your budget that are essential versus those that are discretionary. Essential items, or “needs,” include expenses like housing, transportation, utilities, medical expenses, debt payments and food. Discretionary items – your “wants” – include things like travel, eating out and entertainment. If you’ve gotten a little loose with your discretionary spending, take note and start trimming to get back on track. If you know that there’s travel or any large expenditures coming up, you can build that into your budget as well.
Consider using Google Drive or Dropbox, and a shared calendar to stay organized. I know my family heavily depends on cloud storage systems for a central place to share documents that we can both edit, like our household budget. Our shared calendar is the easiest way to track and communicate important dates. As our family likes to say, “If it’s not on the calendar, it doesn’t exist!”
Boost your savings
Start by looking at your emergency fund. Do you have one in place, and how is it looking these days? Is it enough to cover at least three-to-six-months’ worth of expenses? With interest rates on the rise, some of the online high-yield savings accounts have started to increase their interest rates, which are making them more attractive than saving in your traditional brick and mortar bank.
Also remember to review your retirement savings. If you’re utilizing a company 401(k) to save and they offer a match, make sure to at least save that amount. If you’re 50 or older, you’re eligible for an additional catch-up contribution of $6,500 in 2022, in addition to the $20,500 maximum. IRAs and Roth IRAs are other ways you can save for retirement if you don’t have access to a workplace 401(k) plan (or even if you do). These allow a combined …….