Your mid-year financial checkupFinances
We’ve all done it: Start the year with a host of financial resolutions and good intentions — from breaking bad financial habits to getting on top of your investing game. But somehow, the months whiz by and your next New Year’s Eve looks more like Groundhog Day. As well-intentioned as we may be, the average American gives up on New Year’s resolutions by February 1, and 68 percent said they don’t even make it that far, according to StudyFinds.org. Want to break the pattern? Mid-year can be an excellent time to check in with yourself and make some adjustments to be sure you’re staying on course.
Here are three key questions to ask yourself now:
- Are you visualizing future expenses? Stark spreadsheets often fail people when it comes to tracking home renovations, vacations and other high-volume purchases because they don’t allow you to see the smaller expenses that can add up. “When there’s a lot of data to keep straight, it’s easier to leave out the little things and go over budget,” said Regina Leeds, co-author of One Year to an Organized Financial Life, in an interview conducted by Athene.
Instead of crunching numbers in Excel, Leeds helps her clients see abstract numbers as tangible objects by having them visually track their purchases. Leeds recommends Pinterest to help keep their future expenses organized. Think of it as an inspiration board for your finances. For example, you can pin your favorite ideas — like hotels, restaurants and excursions for an upcoming vacation — as you find them, then decide if they fit into your budget. Or try Visual Budget-Finances, an app that helps you chart and categorize your spending.
- Have you leveraged financial technology? Our phone goes everywhere with us, so use it efficiently and download one of the many available financial apps.
- Mint and Wally sort and analyze your spending and savings data from multiple accounts, helping you stay in line with your financial goals.
- You Need a Budget (YNAB) is built around a fairly simple principle: Every dollar has a "job" in a personal budget — investing, repaying debt or covering living expenses. Because this app only lets users create budgets around their actual income, it may help people beat the paycheck to paycheck cycle. And if they get off track, YNAB shows them what to do differently to balance their budget.
- Are you making the most of your savings and investments? If saving more for retirement was one of your resolutions, now is the time to assess if you’re contributing as much as possible. These questions may help:
- Can you invest a little more in your 401(k)? Because small increases may yield big results, take time to run the numbers and see if you can up your contributions.
- Do you have additional room for savings? Consider if purchasing an annuity, which can help secure a steady cash flow during retirement, may be right for you.
- Are you in a position to assume some risk? Consider experimenting conservatively with bedrock stocks or even illiquid investments, which can have more advantages than you might think. “One major reason the wealthy become wealthy is that they take a long-term view and make illiquid investments,” says Chartered Financial Consultant Shane Siederman, in an interview conducted by Athene. “An example is real estate, where there are gains to be made from write-offs and rental income. When you add in those write-offs and the appreciation, over time a lot of money can be made.”
Be sure to discuss what has changed for you at mid-year with your financial professional, so any needed strategy adjustments can be made to help keep your financial goals on course.
This information is brought to you by Athene — where unconventional thinking brings innovative annuity solutions to help make your retirement dreams a reality.
This material has been prepared for informational purposes only, and is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for, tax, legal or accounting advice. You should consult your own tax, legal and accounting advisors before engaging in any transaction.