Last month we wrote about a couple of year-end money moves to make. Now that we’ve rung in the New Year, below are a couple of areas to look to fine-tune your financial life for 2018.
• Review Credit Card and Bank Statements — If you only glance occasionally at your credit card and bank statements, take a few minutes to sit down and really review them. Get a good sense of where your money is going each month. On your credit card statements, do you see a lot of “impulse” or “emotional” buys? Are there expenses that you can potentially cut back or eliminate altogether? If you typically set up recurring payments for auto-payment, it could be that you are paying monthly fees for memberships and subscriptions that you no longer use and had forgotten to cancel. Lastly, while reviewing your credit card and bank statements, look for any charges you don’t recognize.
• Review Your Credit Report — As we mentioned in last month’s article, if you haven’t checked your credit report in a while, do so now. Look for reporting errors and accounts you don’t recognize. If you see anything fraudulent or suspicious, notify the three credit reporting agencies right away.
• Plan and Budget for Big Expenses — Look at the remainder of 2018 — are there any big expenses that you anticipate coming up throughout the year? This could be home repairs you’ve been putting off, a new car or existing car maintenance, braces for your children, or a vacation that you would like to take. Start thinking about these expenses sooner rather than later and begin actively saving for them each month. By proactively thinking about big ticket items that you expect to come up in the next 12 months, you’ll be less likely to be caught off guard and having to scramble to come up with the money.
• Review Your Insurance Coverage — The start of the New Year is good time to review your various insurance coverages. Have you had any life events that might trigger the need for life insurance? This could include events like getting married or a new baby. Do you have adequate disability coverage provided through your employer for your needs or do you need to buy a policy on your own? When was the last time you formally reviewed your auto and homeowners policies with your agent to determine if your current coverage is still adequate for your needs? If it’s been a while, you could have holes or gaps in your coverage you may be unaware of. Work with a qualified professional to determine your needs.
• Automate Your Savings — Consider automatically moving a fixed monthly portion of your paycheck to a savings or taxable investment account. By setting this up on autopilot, you won’t miss the money and you’ll be able to automatically save for certain goals (like building an emergency fund, for instance).
• Review Retirement Savings — Along the same lines of automating your monthly savings, review what you are contributing each month to retirement savings. If you aren’t already contributing the maximum amount allowed to an employer sponsored retirement plan, review your budget and see if you can increase your contribution.
With the daily pressure of work, children and personal schedules, it can be easy to let simple items that can be important to your current financial situation and future financial well-being go to the bottom of your “to do” list. There is no required schedule or “deadline” to review these items, but it does not make them any less important. That’s why we recommend you start 2018 by setting your own personal deadline of the month of January to review and update those financial items that are important to you.
Gary E. Croxall, CFP®
Registered Principal of LPL
Soren E. Croxall, CFP®
LPL Registered Sales Assistant
Securities and Advisory Services offered through LPL Financial, member FINRA/SIPC, a Registered Investment Advisor. LPL Financial and Croxall Capital Planning do not provide tax or legal advice. The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. Securities and advisory services offered through LPL Financial, a Registered Investment Advisor, Member FINRA/SIPC.