As we get into summer, the year is almost half over. This is a good time to check in on your finances and evaluate how things have gone during the first half of the year. If any changes are in order, you’ve got plenty of time to make adjustments before year-end.
What financial surprises have come up so far in 2017? If you’ve had unexpected expenses, you may be able to manage other expenses during the remaining months to (hopefully) keep 2017 from going too far off course. If you’ve been more fortunate than you expected, here’s your chance to evaluate how you can make additional progress toward your goals.
Progress on Goals
If you’re saving for specific goals (like retirement, higher education, or anything else), a monthly savings plan often helps you reach those goals. Do a mid-year checkup to see if you’re on track, and evaluate if those savings goals are too easy or too hard for you to reach.
For 401k Savers
If you’re saving in a workplace retirement plan like a 401k, it’s a great time to evaluate (and possibly increase) your savings in those programs. Some plans limit how often you can change your contribution amount, and July 1st is commonly one of the opportunities to submit any changes. Talk with your HR or Benefits department to provide updated instructions before July 1st. If you get matching contributions, find out if you need to make a contribution during every month of the year to maximize your match.
Check Your Credit
It’s wise to check your credit several times throughout the year. U.S. consumers are entitled to one free credit report from each credit reporting agency each year, and you can get your reports for free at AnnualCreditReport.com. That site was developed by the three major credit bureaus: Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax.
Note that the law provides for free credit reports, but you’ll have to pay a fee if you want credit scores. Your credit scores are created with the data in your credit reports, so you don’t necessarily need to pay for a score. Check one of the credit bureaus now, and check another one in a few months just to see if anything changed (all three reports are available from that same site).
There’s no way to predict the timing or direction of future market movements, but this is an opportunity to reflect on your current strategies. It’s difficult to think rationally when we’re in the midst of a crisis, so now may be a good time to ask yourself if you’re taking the right risks, how you’d feel if the markets go down, and how you’d feel if the markets continue upward.
If you’d like to discuss any of these items, please let me know — I’d love to talk about how you can plan for the rest of 2017 and beyond.
Enjoy your summer,
Justin Pritchard, CFP®