Federal Employees News Digest

Check in on your financial goals

Many of us begin the year with a clear set of resolutions or goals that we want to achieve by year end. According to a survey conducted by Magnify Money, 51% of Americans planned to set a finance related goal in 2021. While many people fail to stick to goals or resolutions during the year, a great way to improve your chances of achieving financial goals is to check in on and review your progress regularly. 

With the first half of the year behind us, summer represents the season for vacations and outdoor fun, and it is also a perfect time to take a pause and perform a check in on your finances. Similar to scheduling time to perform a check up on our physical health and it is equally important to schedule time to check in on our finances regularly to review progress towards achieving financial goals and to identify if adjustments are necessary.

If you have not set financial goals, this is also an opportunity to sit down and determine exactly what you want to accomplish financially this year.  Common financial goals are saving for a home, saving for retirement, paying off debt, increasing credit scores. The first step is to figure out your why and identify what matters most to you. This will also help serve as motivation to keep going when temptation to spend or deviate from the financial plan creeps in.

Using the SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-specific) goals method is a recommended way to set financial goals because this process will help break down the what, who, where, and why of each financial goal that you’ve set.

If you know your financial goals, here are three things you can do to perform a mid-year check in:

Review your numbers

  1. Review your total income and expenses and analyze your spending using your bank and credit card statements. Think about how, why, and where you have been spending for the past six months. Does your spending align with your values and goals? This exercise might be eye opening if you haven’t been sticking to or monitoring your budget but doing this will enable you to identify where adjustments are required in order for you to achieve your financial goals.
  2. Calculate your net worth which includes total assets minus total liabilities. Your net worth is a key financial metric that helps to determine your wealth.
  3. Request a free credit report from annualcreditreport.com and verify that everything on your report is accurate. Your credit report and credit history is important to determine credit worthiness and having a good credit history can position you to receive lower interest rates and save money over time.
  4. Analyze your savings and investments which includes short term goals, long term goals, and retirement planning.
  5. This step will include reviewing your goals and making sure that you are on track and also reviewing retirement plans or investments outside of retirement plans to build your future nest egg.

Analyze your budget

Your budget is your roadmap to getting control of your money and achieving your financial goals. During the mid-year checkup, leverage the knowledge gained from analyzing your spending to identify if and where adjustments are needed in your budget.The practice of budgeting takes time to perfect, but the steps are to know your income, plan your expenses, and track your spending. Update your budget monthly, bi-monthly, or weekly, depending on your preference and track your spending to insure that you remain in line with your budget.Also, build room in your budget to save for a rainy day.It’s recommended to have an emergency fund of three to six months of expenses set aside in a liquid savings account to pay for life’s emergencies should they arise. This is key to helping you to stay on track with your budget and achieve your financial goals.And finally, be sure to allocate money to have fun in your budget, too!

Estate Planning

Your midyear financial check-up is the time to conduct a review of your insurance policies and estate plans and documents.Schedule time with your or insurance agent to confirm that you have the right levels of coverage to protect you and your assets.Also, review your estate plan or create one if you don’t have one.  An estate plan can act as a safety net that helps preserve the value of your assets, minimizes wait times for disbursement, and helps ensure the legacy you envisioned is carried out.   

Staying on top of your finances is an important component of building wealth and helps with the achievement of financial goals. Checking in on your progress regularly will help to stay motivated when temptation arises and will also help to stay focused on the end goal. 

Remember to be flexible, leverage the financial check in as a time to update your goals as your life changes and share your goals with a spouse, partner, or trusted friend for accountability and support. And finally, reward yourself for your progress along the way!

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Stephanie is a Certified Financial Education Instructor and Financial Coach. She specializes in simplifying complex financial terms with a goal to empower through financial education.

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