The New Year is here and with it a new potential you. Then, the bills come rolling in and you’re reminded of the old you.
During the holidays, majority of people are focused on spending rather than saving until the financial reality sets in when the holiday bills arrive in January. To escape the financial situation, we often fantasize about Spring and Summer filled with vacations (in a pre-pandemic world), desired home improvements and other ways to spend to escape the cold and moneyless reality.
January is an important month because of the significance the New Year has in our psyche. It’s the month we decide to start the new diet, start looking for a new job and start focusing on self-improvement. And much of those desires haven’t changed in the pandemic world we live in. In fact, a desire to change has heightened.
Within the month, there is a collective energy around the New Year around setting resolutions and achieving your financial goals. The month of January is an important month to shift into a new financial mindset. If there is anything you can do to impact the rest of your life, not just one month in a year, then take care of your finances.
I’ve learned there are 7 simple financial checkups to do in early January that can prep you into deeper financial analysis and planning in the coming months.
Do the following checkups in the next 7 days. Allocate 30 minute to an hour per day to complete each checkup.
7 Financial Checkups to Do in January
- Check your net worth. Your net worth is the most important number indicating your financial wealth. It takes your assets (what you own) minus liabilities (what you owe). A positive net worth means you’re building wealth. A negative net worth shows your assets can’t cover your current debt obligations. Learn more about calculating your net worth.
- Check your cash flow number. This simple calculation can help you determine if you’re living within your means and what adjustments, if necessary, is needed. Your cash flow takes your monthly income minus your monthly expenses. A positive cash flow means you can cover your expenses and savings goals with money left for whatever you wish. A negative cash flow can indicate you are likely experiencing financial issues or may be relying on credit to cover income shortages. Learn to calculate your cash flow number.
- Check your credit score. What’s your three digit number? Check your credit score to see how you’re doing overall with your credit. If your score is lower than you had anticipated, then get a copy of your credit report though AnnualCreditReport.com and review it. Use a credit report monitoring tool to give you alerts of any changes, as well as provide you insights throughout the year on protecting or improving your credit.
- Check your 401K contributions. Review how much you’ve contributed into your retirement plan last year. This is a good checkup to see if you’re getting closer to contributing the maximum amount allowed by the IRS and how much of any employer matching contributions you received. Then, consider raising your contribution by 1%. Ask you HR department or look at your retirement plan administrator website for the details.
- Check your auto insurance rate. Did you know insurance providers bet on your laziness? Basically, your rates may increase annually even though driving has improved. If you had a stellar driving record last year you may qualify for a discount this year with your current insurer. If that’s not the case, start shopping around for better premium rates.
- Check your smartphone bill. Don’t pay more than you have to with service. Look at the last bill and ask yourself why you’re paying “that much” and call up your provider. Ask for a discount or a new plan for the New Year. Also, consider switching to a different provider. I haven’t paid more than $40 for unlimited data and service in over 2 years using an MVNO. I currently use Visible wireless that is on the Verizon network.
- Check your current banking relationship. We often stick with our financial relationships out of habit. But your situation may have changed last year and you’ve outgrown your bank. Even if you don’t want to switch, take a moment to look at total fees paid last year including maintenance, statement, ATMs surcharges as well as minimum requirements to avoid any such fees. Also, check how much interest, if any, you earned in the savings accounts. Not happy? Consider switching to a better financial institution. Check our marketplace for alternative banking options.
These are simple financial checkups that you can complete in the first or second week of January. After completing them, it may spur an interest in a more in-depth financial planning.
So what are your must do financial checkups in early January?