Spring Cleanout of Your Finances

by Stacy Francis, CFP®, CDFA

My husband, son and I are getting ready to move to a larger apartment. I did a much belated, and much needed, spring cleanout of my closet this weekend to start getting ready. It got me thinking that while most of us do some sort of spring cleanout – our closets, our houses, our garages, even those office drawers stuffed with papers that haven’t seen daylight for years – very few of us go to work on our finances. This is too bad, because just as spring cleanouts make us look at our clothes in a new light, they can help us reach our financial goals. Here’s what you do.

Start with your investment habits. Are they in line with your expectations for retirement and overall life plan? Would you feel better about yourself if you set more aside, or be happier if you lived more in the now and bought yourself some nice things? Has your life situation – and thus your investment needs — changed?

Then look to your income. Are you happy with your current income? If not, how could you change that? Would a couple of extension classes up your value on the job market, or could you take on a few more clients? Or are you in a place right now where you want more time for your family or for yourself, and thus wish to cut down on your hours? If so, how do you make it happen?

Finally, take an in-depth (be brave!) look at your spending habits. Are they in line with your goals for the future? Do you leave room for error in your budget, or for disasters such as hospitalization of someone in your family? Could you cut some corners? If so, where?

Our life situations change constantly, and consequently, so do our financial needs. By taking the pulse on your finances once per year, you greatly improve your chances of staying on track and getting what you want out of life.

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