The beginning of a new year is a great time to recommit to your goals. The following tips will provide a fresh start to 2019 and help you achieve financial fitness.
Write out your financial goals:
It is beneficial to write down your goals to effectively track your progress. Remember goals should be SMART:
A specific goal has a much greater chance of being accomplished than a general goal. To set a specific goal you must answer the five “W” questions:
- Who is involved?
- What do I want to accomplish and what are the requirements and constraints?
- When does it need to be completed?
- Where is the location?
- Why accomplish the goal? Include specific reasons, purposes, or benefits.
To determine if a goal is measurable, ask questions such as how much, how many, and how will I know when it is accomplished?
Make sure your goals are realistic. It is more realistic to increase savings by $1,000 in one year – than to become a millionaire in 3 months.
Frequently review goals in order to stay on track. Visual reminders help goals stay on the top of your mind and keep you focused. For example, put a picture of your dream vacation on the fridge, or use your ideal home as your computer’s desktop background.
A goal should be grounded within a time frame. With no time frame tied to it, there’s no sense of urgency.
Make a budget and stick to it. You can find several budgeting tools online to fit your needs, or use Manage My Finances through Hills Bank Online to create a budget and set goals.
Organize your financial records:
Before you can manage your financial affairs, you need to take charge of important documents. Get a fresh start in 2019 and organize your personal documents. Basic legal documents such as income tax returns, cancelled checks, and receipts for deductible expenses should be kept until the chance of an IRS audit passes, which is typically seven years following the date the return was filed. Items that are difficult to replace should be stored in a safe deposit box, including birth certificates, social security cards, car titles, and insurance policies. Keep a copy of each of these documents with important documents in your home so you’ll always remember what is in your safe deposit box.
To help you organize your financial records, Hills Bank has created a Personal SAFEkeeper. Simply print the PDF document and assemble into a large binder or filing system.
Pay yourself first:
Take advantage of your employer’s retirement plan. If your company matches, contribute up to the match amount. Remember, if you don’t, you’re missing out on free money!
Create an emergency fund:
If you’re young, single, and have no mortgage, strive for an emergency fund that covers approximately three months of expenses. If you have a house, kids, or both, strive for a minimum of six months of expenses.
Protect your assets:
Now is a great time to look at how you protect your assets through home, life, disability, and health insurance. Make sure you and your property are adequately covered.
Check your credit score:
An annual review of your credit report is an important part of financial fitness. It’s one of the best ways to spot identity theft and identify inaccuracies. Your credit report can have a dramatic impact on your financial security and help you identify lingering problems so you can deal with them effectively and move toward an improved credit standing.
Much like physical fitness, it takes regular effort to be effective. And much like dieting, maintaining financial fitness is a lifelong process. The sooner you exercise these tips, the sooner you’ll be in great financial shape!