The hot months might be when we’re used to taking it easy, planning family vacations, and getting away from the responsibilities of the day-to-day. Summer also means we’re halfway through the year, which makes it a perfect time to gain some peace of mind by taking a peek at your financial goals – perhaps not a full annual checkup, but a once-over to make sure everything is heading in the right direction.
- Ask yourself: Have I had any major life changes since my last annual checkup? A new job, a change in insurance providers, moving house, receiving an inheritance, or welcoming a new family member can all affect your savings and investment strategy.
- Give your budget a once-over to make sure all your regular expenditures are being met, and to see if there’s any extra you can put aside for summertime fun.
- Snip off excess spending. If your budget review turns up regular expenses for things you just don’t need, whether it’s the daily latte or a monthly streaming service bill, cut that off and set aside the extra for something you really need – or just something you’d get more out of.
- Look out for possible income changes. If you might take on seasonal work or are considering a different job, see that your budget has the flexibility for an increase or decrease in your take-home pay.
- At the same time, look at your debt situation. If you’ve got a high-interest credit card that’s creeping up or a long-term loan with principal that’s not going down, consider changing the way you spend and save.
- Finally, check how yourlong-term savings are doing. If you’ve got them, look at the balances of your retirement account, your investment portfolio, your 529 college savings, and your emergency fund – not to mention your vacation fund! Depending on how they’re doing, a financial advisor might even be able to recommend alternatives for some of these accounts that offer a higher rate of return while still fitting in with your personal tolerance for risk … but you won’t know if you don’t take a look.
Once you’ve given your finances that mid-year once-over, you can enjoy some summer fun without worry. Here are some great ways to get the most out of the season while keeping your finances in the best possible shape.
- Set a budget for fun.Once that seasonal mini-checkup is done, you should have a very good idea of how much to set aside for the vacation you want: transportation, lodging, admission fees, food, and any other set expenses (like must-have souvenirs).
- Explore locally as well as far afield. We’ve been conditioned to think “vacation” has to mean “a trip,” when in fact there are usually plenty of places near you that people will come from far and wide to visit. Maybe it’s a local beach or watering hole, maybe it’s a downtown museum or historic trail, or maybe it’s an annual event within a few hours' journey. You can enjoy yourself without shelling out unnecessarily for travel.
- Pay attention to peak times. If you are planning a longer trip, double-check for deals on certain days. Some hotels offer discounts if you stay a certain number of days, and some flights can be dramatically cheaper on different days of the week.
- What’re your points? While you’re double checking dates and times, see if there are any credit card points or frequent-flyer miles you’ve got socked away that you can apply to your vacation before they expire. Or, if you’re staying in a specific hotel or taking a particular airline to your destination, see if there are loyalty clubs or frequent-flyer programs that share perks between each other. It’s not uncommon for hotels to swap points for miles, and it’s possible, although rarer, to be able to exchange frequent-flyer miles for hotel rooms or other benefits. What’s more fun than a vacation that helps pay for itself?
Take control of your finances this summer! When you start the summer off strong, you leave more time for summer fun and can feel confident in the rest of the year.
- https://www.investopedia.com/personal-finance/how-conduct-financial-checkup/ - Financial Checkup
- Summer fun financial plan - https://www.letsmakeaplan.org/financial-topics/articles/financial-planning/how-to-plan-for-summer-fun-through-financial-planning
- Miles and points: https://thepointsguy.com/2017/01/use-miles-to-book-a-hotel-stay/