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The new year is just around the corner away, so if you’re having a difficult time meeting your financial goals or worried about future expenses; it may be time to re-assess your plans. Autumn is a great time to take a second look at your spending habits and make some changes before the holiday season. Below are some suggestions for financial changes you may want to consider:
If your employer offers competitive health insurance, make sure you enroll in the best plan for you during the open enrollment season. Many employers schedule their open enrollment period during the fall time since coverage begins in January.
If you’ve got a savings plan, be it for your kids’ college tuition or building an emergency fund, look at where you are, and where you want to be. If you don’t have a plan, now’s a great time to start saving. Eric Roberge, founder of the firm Beyond Your Hammock in Boston, says he often finds that clients’ goals have changed by the time fall rolls around. For example, if you’ve already achieved your goal for funding a certain savings account, then you can shift the excess savings into a more aggressively invested account to maximize returns.
When was the last time your assessed your budget? Or maybe you don’t currently have one? If you have difficult time saving money each month or are living paycheck to paycheck, this is a good time to assess/create a monthly budget so you can have a plan for the new year. Also, don’t forget to review monthly costs such as cable and internet. Call your providers to see if lower rates exist, or change your provider to save money. Tools exist online to help you, such as You Need a Budget, or an app called Mint.
More often than not, people forget to check in on their retirement accounts. Daniel Wrenne, the founder of Wrenne Financial Planning in Kentucky, recommends a slow and steady approach: contribute the same percentage from each paycheck throughout the year. Artie Green, a certified financial planner at Cognizant Wealth Advisors in California, encourages peoples to have at least 3 – 6 months’ worth of expenses in the bank and to adjust the amount based on family size and current savings. “It should be kept in very liquid and very safe investments.”
Katie Brewer, founder of Your Richest Life, suggests stepping back and examining your overall financial situation. For example: if you changed or lost a job, or sold or bought a house, you may need to add new insurance policies, adopt a more ambitious savings policy and rebalance your long-term investments. “Life changes almost always necessitate a review of your financial situation.”
April is a long way away, but if you start thinking about taxes now, it will be easier to submit and get that refund earlier. Start collecting information and any relevant receipts. Charlotte Dougherty, a certified financial planner in Cincinnati, recommends using your credit card to purchase tax deductible items in December, even if you’ll pay the bill in the new year. “If you are able to charge some deductible expenses on your credit card prior to December 31st, then it can generate deductions for this year.” Examples of deductibles/tax credits can include energy-efficient home improvements or certain school expenses.
And don’t forget about donating! Plan ahead and finalize any charitable donations by December 31st to count them towards your contributions for this year. Make sure you get a receipt so you can keep track of what you give. Giving to charity is also a great way to teach children about the value of giving to others in need.
During the 2015 Holiday season, Americans had planned to spend an average of $830 on shopping, which was about a 15% increase from 2014. Do you plan to spend more or less this season? If you don’t have a growing fund already, now is a great time to start. Setting aside $50 a week could help you save up to half or more of your budget—no need to rack up big credit card debt or take from a savings account to cover the expenses.
Start preparing for the cold by winterizing your home and vehicle. Put together a to-do list with estimated costs (if applicable) and get a head start before the temperatures drop. Examples include: cleaning out gutters, insulating windows, changing tires and getting an oil change.
Fashion changes every fall, and many people update their wardrobe with new styles and warmer clothes, but make sure you don’t overspend! Take an inventory of what you currently have and donate items you haven’t worn for a long time—or will likely never wear again. Another tip is to invest in some basics you can wear even after the fall season; don’t forget the option of clearance racks!
For many companies, you have until about March to spend any remaining money in your health care flexible spending account. If you are overdue for a check-up with your healthcare provider, be sure to make an appointment. Start the new year with new healthcare goals! If you need to schedule an appointment with one of our Revere Health providers, call 801-429-8000.
About The Author: Cassidy Silversmith
Cassidy Silversmith graduated from Utah Valley University in 2012 with a Bachelor of Science in Community Health Education. In 2013, she went on to become a Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES). She currently works in the Wellness Department as a Wellness Assistant
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This information is not intended to replace the advice of a medical professional. You should always consult your doctor before making decisions about your health.