Financial Wellness Checkup: How Healthy Are You?

Adapted from an article by Stacy Francis

Especially in this tumultuous time, it’s important to not only check up on your physical health, but your financial health as well. Use this checklist to make sure your finances are healthy.

Do You…

Use a budget: Such benefits can entail saving for retirement, buying property, or having a college fund for your children. On the other hand, not using a budget can lead to overspending and credit card debt. According to a study done by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, women are more likely to be over budget by a greater amount than their male counterparts. Further, according to a study at Rutgers University, “Perceived control over personal financial circumstances was a significant predictor of higher psychological well-being”. In using a budget, not only are you helping to secure financial stability, you’re also enhancing your physical and emotional well-being.

To create your own budget, download our Free Budgeting Worksheet

Have an emergency fund: While creating and maintaining a budget is a commonly dreaded affair, the benefits of keeping track of your monthly expenses far outweigh the disadvantages. Save for an emergency cash cushion and aim to have at least three to six months of living expenses in the bank. Diversity Woman, a publication that works to empower women of all backgrounds, claims that even saving 5% to 10% of your paycheck can result in a comfortable emergency fund. That way, you’ll protect yourself and the financial world you’ve built so that no situation overwhelms you. Use a high-yield savings account; higher interest with allow you to accrue more money, especially as your savings increase.

Know your money: Don’t be reliant on your significant other- be the one paying the bills, keeping track of your assets and what you owe. Women are increasingly earning more and, according to New York Life Investments, $14 trillion worth of personal wealth is controlled by women, which is only to increase in the years to come. That means that, not only do women have the financial means to support themselves, but now is also the time for women to take control of their finances.

Even if you are married, don’t hand over all control of the money to your husband “because it’s a guy thing.” That robs you of your power and financial security. You, too, can be the “money person” or ask to hold monthly discussions to look at the family finances. Schedule a “financial date night,” and make it fun.

Save: Be consistent in putting money into retirement accounts, kids college funds, etc. Many studies have shown that, on average, women have lower savings rates than men, putting themselves at greater risk of outliving their money. According to a study by BMO Harris, men have nearly twice as much saved as women. Saving for your future should be just as much of a priority as paying off debt. Women can’t afford to only think short-term.A helpful trick to easy saving is to set up automatic contributions to your retirement plan at work. You can also add the auto-escalation feature, which will allow your contribution to automatically increase 1% to 2% annually.

Take advantage of free annual credit reports: Check on your credit report annually to make sure you’re safe from scams and identity fraud and on track for your financial goals. Use the federally authorized website, annualcreditreport.com, to request a credit report from the three official sources- Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. Get a free copy of your credit report every 12 months from each credit reporting company. To be extra safe, you can even check your report up to three times a year by spreading out each report over the course of the 12 months.

Take advantage of and contribute to your 401K: Remember that saving money is an investment by the time value of money, which states that the more you begin saving (and the sooner) for retirement the more money you’ll have when you do retire. This is especially true considering that $1 today will be worth more once you’re ready to retire. Financial planners typically advise that employees contribute at least enough money to their 401K plans to get the full employer match. Try to have some sense of where you stand with how much is in your 401K.

Want to learn more about your 401K? Watch our webinar, What’s in Your 401(k)?

Ultimately, spend less than you earn. Never give yourself an increase in standard of living — instead, increase your savings. You’ll see the benefits pay off for your future and for your loved ones.

Empower yourself and take control of your finances. It’s never too early or too late to start.

Adapted from the article Every woman should be her own chief financial officer that originally appeared on https://cnbc.com