Every year, I have the opportunity to get a health screening. I get updated on my cholesterol, blood pressure, height and weight–the numbers that tell the story. Talk about a reality check! It’s a factual reminder of how well I’ve worked toward the fitness goals of last year: to be as healthy as possible and hopefully live a long productive life.
This got me thinking about other areas of my life that might benefit from getting a checkup–like my finances.
What is a financial checkup?
A financial checkup gives you a snapshot of your current financial health. If your past year was anything like mine, some things have changed (besides the belt hole I use!) that need some reflection and consideration. For me, it was moving to a new state and having two children in college. But for you–it could be the purchase of a new home, having a baby or other new addition to your family, marriage or divorce, a career change, change in salary (hopefully more) or any other change that affects your finances.
If any of these types of life events came and went over the last year or so, it might make sense to do a financial checkup. It’s an opportunity to take stock and provide a “prescription” to help you get where you want to be. Are your financial vitals within range of where you want to go? Did they change due to some of the circumstances mentioned above?
How to start your financial checkup
Just like a health checkup measures blood pressure, height, weight, and cholesterol; a financial checkup looks at your retirement savings, current tax status, insurance coverages, beneficiaries, and overall budget. These are the big things that typically don’t fall into your day-to-day living. But they do require at the very least–an annual checkup. Below are seven tips to get you started on that financial checkup.
- Examine Retirement accounts–Gather copies of your retirement savings accounts and review their performance. Use a retirement calculator to make sure you are still on track.
- Revise Beneficiaries–Are they all up to date? Are there changes that need to be made to make sure your wishes are carried out?
- W-2 Review–Make sure compensation is documented correctly and deductions are correct.
- Adjust addresses–Make sure both physical (if you’ve moved) and electronic addresses are up to date.
- Insurance card cleanup–Typically you will receive new insurance cards for your car, health etc. Make sure the latest versions are at your disposal.
- Will(s)–Wills, living wills and power of attorney documents-if you don’t have them, get them! If you have them, review them and if circumstances have changed, update them as necessary.
- Protect yourself properly–Make sure that the insurance on your home, auto, cell phones and life are where they need to be.
With a health checkup, a consultation with your doctor helps in setting safe and healthy goals. The same is true with a financial checkup. A financial professional can spot financial patterns and trends which can be helpful in charting the right course to reach your financial goals.
So when was the last time you had a financial checkup? If you think it makes sense, get started with our seven tips and then reach out to a financial professional. Oh, and unlike some annual medical tests that come with age, a financial checkup doesn’t hurt one bit!