We are more than half way through 2021 – crazy, right? Your mind is probably already in summer mode – planning trips to the beach, relaxing with friends, and maybe even a bit of Christmas in July. Now is also a good time to do a mid-year financial check-in to make sure you’re still on track to reach those goals you set back in January. If your good intentions have fallen to the wayside due to the busyness of life, it’s time to right the ship and get back on course.
Let’s start with a look in the rearview mirror. Take a few minutes now to remember why you set those goals in the first place. What goals did you want to achieve this year? Are you following your plan to achieve them? Have you been sticking to your budget?
If not, check out our blog, “How to Make 2021 Your Best Financial Year Yet” for a refresher and then move forward again with these 7 steps to get back on track and make the second half of 2021 your best yet.
#1: Re-review Your Financial Goals
Did you set financial goals at the start of the year? What were they? We encourage you to use the SMART method to assist with setting goals. As you think about those goals, ask yourself – are these goals feasible in the short term? Or should they be long-term goals instead? It’s important to be realistic about what to expect for yourself. Finally, ask yourself if you’re in a better position than you were before the New Year.
Take a few minutes to understand the why behind the specific goals you set. That can help you determine if they are still achievable or, if in reality, they are important enough for you to try again.
#2: Re-review Your Current Budget and Spending Habits
One critical component in building financial health is to know where and how you spend money. If you have not done so yet, it’s not too late to begin to track your spending for the second half of the year. Look for spending trends and spots where you may be able to tweak your purchases to help you cut out unneeded and unnecessary expenses.
It’s always important to look at spending habits closely. This can help you distinguish between your needs and wants. By doing this, and cutting out extra costs, you can create some savings opportunities over time. Use a savings calculator for some insight into what you could be saving. It may be pretty eye-opening!
#3: Monitor Your Savings
Savings – it’s the lifeline to financial security, yet many people do not put enough time into managing their savings. Ask yourself the hard questions: Are you saving enough to cover short and long-term expenses? Are you spending too much? Are you withdrawing money from the savings you already have? Have you made progress with reaching a goal for a large purchase? If not, it’s time to create a six-month plan to help you make your goals before 2022.
#4: Check in on Your Retirement Account
Be sure you’re making contributions to your retirement account. Is it the most you can make? Can you contribute a bit more from costs you were able to cut from some of your unnecessary spending? Remember time is in your favor, so the more you can contribute now to your retirement, the bigger your nest egg can become.
#5: How’s Your Emergency Fund?
Ensure you have an emergency fund set up. It’s important to have funds for an unexpected expense so you can avoid having to use a credit card for an emergency purchase. Start or boost a fund with any lump sum money you receive, such as a tax refund or a bonus from work.
#6: Tackle Lingering Debts
It’s not easy to do this, but if your debt has grown since January, it’s time to take action. Set goals to handle high-interest rate debt first. Then, be sure you are monitoring your credit score with Credit Sense to instantly access your credit score, full credit report, special offers and personalized tips to help you improve or maintain your credit score.
#7: Check Your Tax Situation
It’s a good time to talk to your tax professional to find out if there are any tax roadblocks in your way this year. Checking now can help you avoid any surprises when it’s time to file your return.
Without routine monitoring, it’s easy to find yourself in the same financial situation you were in at the end of last year. The year is half way over, but it’s not too late to get your finances back on track. If you’re spinning your wheels and need some guidance, Lakeland Bank is here to help! Learn more about the personal banking and financial planning services we offer. Reach out to us today or find a local branch near you. We’re happy to assist you in any way we can.