The new year is here. It’s the perfect time to analyze your financial situation and develop a list of action items. A regular annual financial checkup can help you stay on top of potential risks and on track to meet your biggest financial goals.
Ready to start your year with a financial review? Below are three questions to ask yourself as you perform your annual financial review. A financial professional can help you conduct a detailed, comprehensive analysis.
Do you have a financial inventory?
A financial inventory is a summary document that can give you a clear view of your financial picture. It contains every important component of your personal finances. For example, it may list your assets, debts, investments and much more. Your inventory can give you insight into your financial situation so you can set appropriate goals and objectives.
Start with statements and documents related to your savings, investments, property and other assets. You’ll also want to include documentation related to your debts, such as your mortgage, car loans, credit cards and more. You can calculate your net worth by subtracting your debts from your assets.
You also may want to include other important items in your inventory. For example, your credit score and full credit report contain important financial information. You also may want to highlight the assets that you would use first in the event of an emergency.
Once you have completed your financial inventory document, you can use it as a reference point to quickly gauge your current financial standing. For example, your financial inventory may tell you that your debt is very high relative to your assets. Or you may learn that your credit card balances are higher than you thought. This can help you set goals for the coming year.
Are you using a budget?
A budget can be one of the most valuable financial tools at your disposal. You can use it to gain greater understanding about your spending and to make important purchasing decisions. Unfortunately, nearly 60 percent of all Americans don’t use one.1
There are plenty of apps, websites and software that you can use to develop your budget. You could also simply use a spreadsheet or even a pen and paper. Start with your monthly income. List your income sources, and then add up the total.
Then list your expenses and break them into categories. The categories should fall into two groups: fixed and discretionary. Fixed expenses are those that you have to pay every month, such as your mortgage or your utilities. Discretionary costs are those that are flexible, like dining out or shopping.
Compare your income with your total expenses. If your income exceeds your spending, you have money available to save. If your expenses are higher, you need to make changes to your lifestyle and your purchasing decisions. Visit your budget frequently to make sure you’re being disciplined and staying within your means.
What are your short- and long-term goals?
Finally, your annual financial checkup should include some form of goal-setting for the coming year and beyond. The new year is all about setting resolutions. Use your financial checkup as a springboard for action that can help you retake control of your financial future.
You could set a goal to pay off your high-interest debt by some point in the future. You could increase your retirement savings. Perhaps you could work to build a larger emergency fund. Set goals for the short and long term to improve your financial stability.
Ready for your annual financial review? Let’s talk about it. Contact us today at Carstens Financial Group. We can help you analyze your needs and goals, and then implement a plan. Let’s connect soon and start the conversation.
Licensed Insurance Professional. This information is designed to provide a general overview with regard to the subject matter covered and is not state specific. The authors, publisher and host are not providing legal, accounting or specific advice for your situation. By providing your information, you give consent to be contacted about the possible sale of an insurance or annuity product. This information has been provided by a Licensed Insurance Professional and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting insurance professional. The statements and opinions expressed are those of the author and are subject to change at any time. All information is believed to be from reliable sources; however, presenting insurance professional makes no representation as to its completeness or accuracy. This material has been prepared for informational and educational purposes only. It is not intended to provide, and should not be relied upon for, accounting, legal, tax or investment advice.
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