Financial Wellness Checklist

Wellness not only pertains to your body and your health. Wellness pertains to your finances as well. Ae we close out this January, take a moment and do a financial wellness checkup

 

The first of a new year is a great time to think about how to manage your personal finances. Developing a straightforward money management system (or breathing new life into an old one) can help you make smart decisions about budgeting, saving, borrowing, and investing.

Here are six tips to help you organize your financial strategy this year.

1. Track your spending.

The most basic money management strategy is to track your spending and use that to help you develop a budget. To get started, use a simple spreadsheet or a personal finance app to calculate what you spend in basic categories, such as groceries, shopping, eating out, and entertainment. Keep your receipts so you can track cash purchases, and be sure to include your online spending as well.

Reviewing your spending not only tells you where most of your money is going, it can also help you catch mistakes in your bills. Dedicated budgeters say they catch hundreds of dollars’ worth of mistakes every year. Take a minute to review your spending first thing in the morning, right before you go to bed, or every Saturday morning—just make sure you do it regularly.

2. Set financial goals.

Establishing financial goals will help you stick to your budget because you will know what you are saving for and why. You are likely to have a mix of short-term goals, such as buying a new laptop; mid-term goals, such as taking a vacation; and long-term goals, such as saving for retirement.

Set a plan for your goals, but be sure that your plan is realistic and flexible. It’s better to progress slowly than to get frustrated and stop saving. You may want to set a monthly dollar amount and put that money aside before you start spending. For some people, it also helps to put that money in a different bank account—one not connected to online banking, for example—so that it’s not easily accessible.

3. Talk about your budget.

Talking about your budget and goals with a spouse, partner, friend, or financial advisor is essential to get organized, stay motivated, and keep your spending under control.

Budget discussions will differ depending on your financial situation and the number of people involved. For example, a single person may only need to meet with his or her financial advisor once a month, whereas a couple with two children may need to discuss expenses and bills every week.

Whenever it is, make sure you are consistent and thorough. You should come prepared with your transactions accounted for and your bills ready to be paid. You should also review your money goals, your progress, and how long it will be before you’ll meet your goal.

4. Make a money calendar.

An important part of money management is paying your bills on time every month. Late payments can lead to extra fines and can also impact your credit score. A money calendar is a tool that is both simple and effective, and it can help you keep track of your bills. Create a calendar with every due date, and then set an alarm to notify you to pay on that date. If you use automatic deductions, make sure to note those items on the calendar as well.

5. Check your credit score.

Your credit score is an important aspect of money management because it helps determine if you can qualify for new credit and at what interest rate. Your interest rate directly impacts the affordability of your loan, with higher interest rates making a loan less affordable.

You are entitled to one free credit report annually from each of the three credit reporting agencies (CRAs) through AnnualCreditReport.com, and you can also purchase your credit report and credit score directly from Equifax or another CRA. Order your credit report and review it. If you see any negative information, such as late payments or overdue accounts, make a plan to settle those debts as soon as possible.

As you pay down those debts, try working with your creditors. For example, if you have a credit card with a high-interest rate, consider calling your credit card company and negotiating a lower rate. You should also tell your lender if you need help paying your debt because the lender may offer you better repayment terms if you communicate about financial hardships.

6. Identify your spending triggers.

Discretionary spending should be built into your budget so that you feel free to spend occasionally. In order to stay within your limit,  consider what causes you to spend more. The reasons may be social, environmental, or emotional. Anticipate your spending triggers, and identify something enjoyable that you can do when the triggers arise. For example, if you always stop at the local coffee shop at 9:30 AM, consider bringing a thermos of coffee with you from home instead. It may take some time and preparation, but knowing your habits will help you avoid impulse buys.

While successful money management won’t boost your income, it may enable you to stretch your dollars further and keep your financial wellness plan right on track. Now that you’ve gotten started, what are some other ways you’re keeping yourself financially on track throughout 2018?

Disease Called Debt
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on Financial Wellness Checklist

  1. BlazyGoneCrazy
    January 31, 2018 at 12:59 pm (5 months ago)

    Amazing checklist to save money. As a pert-time worker I keep on searching for the best possible way to save money.

    Reply
    • tracie45
      January 31, 2018 at 1:59 pm (5 months ago)

      There are so many way’s to save! Saving is like a scavenger hunt for me. I look for different way’s to save in everything I do. Thank you for reading and commenting.

      Reply
  2. Neely Moldovan
    January 31, 2018 at 1:07 pm (5 months ago)

    So smart! So many people think of wellness but NOT financial wellness. Do you mind if I link this in my wellness post?

    Reply
    • tracie45
      January 31, 2018 at 1:22 pm (5 months ago)

      Thank you Neely and sure you may link it in your wellness post. Thank you for reading commenting and linking!

      Reply
  3. Marcie W.
    January 31, 2018 at 1:41 pm (5 months ago)

    Wonderful advice! After working very hard on eliminating our debt and strengthening our credit scores, saving for retirement is the next financial goal my husband and I hope to accomplish.

    Reply
  4. Scott
    January 31, 2018 at 3:37 pm (5 months ago)

    We’ve tracked everything spent and received for over 25 years thanks to programs like MS Money and Quicken. It really is the only way to do it!

    Reply
    • tracie45
      February 7, 2018 at 6:03 pm (5 months ago)

      Funny you should mention that Scott. My husband and I track all of our spending too. He jokes and says that I track everything down to the lint in his pocket. Thank you for reading and commenting!

      Reply
  5. Annemarie LeBlanc
    January 31, 2018 at 11:25 pm (5 months ago)

    Great tips! I do most of them but with your list, I think the one I need to work on is to identify my spending triggers. That would be really helpful to know and avoid in the future.

    Reply
    • tracie45
      February 7, 2018 at 6:04 pm (5 months ago)

      Yes, Annemarie, identifying your spending triggers will really help you in the long run. Thank you for reading and commenting.

      Reply
  6. Tami
    February 1, 2018 at 10:38 am (5 months ago)

    Identifying our spending triggers was key to getting ourselves back on track financially. We learned the hard way, unfortunately. These tips would’ve saved us some heartache.

    Reply
    • tracie45
      February 7, 2018 at 6:05 pm (5 months ago)

      Us too Tammy. Once I was able to see why I spent what I spent and how I was feeling when I spent, that shed a ton of light on my spending habits. Thank you for reading and commenting!

      Reply
  7. CourtneyLynne
    February 1, 2018 at 9:54 pm (5 months ago)

    Ooooo great checklist!!! One of my 2018 Goals is to track my expenses better! I need to be more wise with my cash

    Reply
    • tracie45
      February 7, 2018 at 6:20 pm (5 months ago)

      Thank you, Courtney Lynne! Tracking our spending has helped us achieve many financial goals. Thank you for reading and commenting!

      Reply
  8. Femme Frugality
    February 4, 2018 at 8:23 pm (5 months ago)

    My old roommate and I had a huge money calendar in our kitchen, and it really did keep us both accountable. I haven’t used one in a while thanks to my smart phone, but I might go back–nothing like seeing it in front of you in print everyday!

    Reply
    • tracie45
      February 7, 2018 at 6:14 pm (5 months ago)

      Femme, I use my planner to keep track of our finances, along with a spreadsheet. My planner really does help me to see daily where we are and what we need to do. Nothing like an old-fashioned black and white on paper. Thank you for reading and commenting!

      Reply

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