Doing a Midyear Financial Check-in: 8 Steps to Keep Your Finances on Track

Summer is the perfect time for barbecues and beach parties, but it’s also a good opportunity to take the pulse of your saving and spending plan with a midyear financial checkup. With the first half of the year in the rearview mirror, a quick look at your monthly budget can yield valuable insight into whether you are still on track to meet your yearly savings goals. It can also help identify areas of spending and provide motivation to set new goals. Here are eight actionable and realistic steps to guide you through this process:

Step 1: Check on Your Financial Goals

Your goals are subject to change. Perhaps a child has altered plans for college. Maybe your retirement date is affected by changes to your work circumstances or investment portfolio. This is a time to put careful thought into whether your goals remain accurate or if you need to update them and make appropriate adjustments to your financial plan.

Step 2: Evaluate Your Budget

Take a close look at your budget. Compare your actual spending to what you had planned. Identify areas where you’ve overspent and areas where you’ve managed to save. Adjust your budget to reflect any changes in your financial situation, such as income fluctuations or new expenses.

Step 3: Check Your Retirement Contributions

Take stock of your retirement plan contributions and ensure you are at least contributing enough to collect any employer match to which you are entitled. Aim to max out your tax-favored retirement plans, such as a 401(k), 403(b), or IRA, which helps build your future nest egg and can yield valuable current-year tax deductions.

Step 4: Tackle Debt

Review your current debt situation: is your debt level going up, declining, or unchanged from the start of the year? Prioritize paying off high-interest debt, such as credit card balances. Focus on the debt with the highest interest rate first while making minimum payments on others to avoid late fees. This strategy can significantly reduce the interest you pay over time.

Step 5: Assess Your Investments

Review your investment performance to ensure your portfolio remains well-positioned to help you meet your long-term goals. Don’t just base that judgment on recent results, but on how your investments perform over time. With slower economic growth predicted for the rest of the year, as well as higher inflation and mortgage rates, it’s important to evaluate what areas require pullback and where you could provide some flexibility, especially in terms of risk. Adjust your financial plan to meet your needs today, while recognizing market volatility.

Step 6: Monitor Your Spending

If your debt level has been stagnant since January or you’re finding it tough to meet your savings goals, track your spending for at least 30 days. Categorize every cent you spend to get a better sense of where your money is going, highlight areas of spending, and establish better saving habits. Look for opportunities to cut unnecessary expenses and redirect those funds toward your financial goals.

Step 7: Protect Your Assets

Review all insurance coverage, including life, health, disability income, and home insurance, annually. Ensure that any significant changes in your life are accounted for in your coverage. If your income has changed substantially, adjust your life insurance and disability income coverage accordingly. Despite a slight cooling in the housing market, home values have risen significantly in the past few years, so be sure your home insurance still covers true replacement costs.

Step 8: Get Ahead of the Game on Tax Planning

Taxes are a constant consideration. Check your tax withholdings to avoid a large tax bill or refund next year. Maximize deductions, harvest investment losses to offset gains, and ensure you are using your Flexible Spending Account (FSA) efficiently. Consider Roth IRA conversions, which can bolster your retirement income strategy by providing tax-free withdrawals. Review your estate planning documents and ensure all beneficiaries and specifications are up to date.

In addition to your estate planning beneficiaries (in your will and/or trust), also make sure that the beneficiaries of your retirement plans (IRAs, 401ks, etc.) and life insurance beneficiaries are up to date. If you have had a life change (like a divorce or a marriage), double-check that the right person or people are listed. In some cases, these types of accounts will settle outside of probate and circumvent a will.

nathan gilbert with his beneficiaries

Me and my beneficiaries

Conclusion

A midyear financial review is a simple yet powerful way to stay on track with your financial goals. By taking these eight steps, you can ensure your finances are in order and make any necessary adjustments to your financial plan. Remember, the key to financial success is regular monitoring and proactive management. Set aside some time this month to conduct your review, and you’ll be better prepared to meet your financial objectives at the end of the year.

If you need personalized guidance, our team of independent, fee-only fiduciaries is here to help you navigate your financial journey. Contact us today to schedule a consultation and take control of your financial future.

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