Most of us are pretty good about scheduling time each year for our health, home and auto maintenance. But what about setting aside a day devoted to your financial health? Where you focus solely on finding, saving and possibly making yourself some money?
It will take perseverance, commitment and an uncanny ability to ignore distractions. You’ll want to schedule a full 10 hour weekday. This will coincide with most financial institutions’ hours on both coasts if necessary.
Before starting, check out NY Times money columnist Ron Lieber’s video about how to have a productive fiscal health day and then dive in using these eight, laser focused beginners tips:
Check your bank statements especially if you are using autopay for subscription services such as Netflix or for magazines. If fees have gone up without your knowledge, ask why. Are they still worth it? Does it make sense to keep? The same goes for auto pay for monthly bills. Review any changes or increases in the monthly fees and if you have questions, call providers and ask why.
- Check your mortgage interest rate. It may pay to refinance, especially with interest rates at current levels. Your financial advisor or mortgage professional can help with the math and how refinancing may impact your taxes.
- Check your PMI (Private Mortgage Insurance) especially if you put less than 20% down on your home when first purchased. If your bank doesn’t do it automatically, ask them to see if you are eligible to have the PMI removed. Depending on when you got the loan you may not be able to remove the PMI and would have to refinance.
- Review your insurance policies with your agent if you have one. Shop around for better rates, especially if you are not satisfied with your coverage or service.
- Check phone, cable and internet fees at least once every couple of years. Competition and new bundling of services may make it worth switching providers. But beware of introductory offers. Rates can significantly increase after the special offer period ends.
- Set up an auto savings plan if you don’t already have one. And if you do already have a plan in place, consider saving even more per month. Each year commit to raising it 2-5 percent.
- Scan your credit reports. If you haven’t done so, get reports from the three major credit reporting agencies from the AnnualCreditReport.com website. If desired, you can stagger the reports in four month increments so that you can watch for discrepancies throughout the year. You are entitled to one free credit report from from each agency per year.
- Review your debt and put a plan in place for paying off as much as you can as soon as you can. Are you able to make an extra mortgage payment each year? Consider any unexpected money, such as gifts or bonuses and use the opportunity to eliminate or pay down a liability.
Once you attend to the basics, you can dive even deeper next time. Be sure to include a will or trust in your financial planning if this is another item on your to do list. Make a call today to review your plan. And now…go out and reward yourself and use up that Extreme Yogurt gift card you’ve been carrying around! Good job!