From the privacy of your home, you can invest time in personal financial matters that you might not be able to focus on at a workplace. Every year you should take a look at your income, expenses, and budget and adjust them. Now during the COVID-19 pandemic, which has affected many Americans' careers and finances, it's especially important to make certain that you’re managing your money thoughtfully. Below are 15 financial tasks that could improve your lifestyle, both now and for the future.
Emergency Reserves, Credit and Budgeting
- Fund a $1,000 starter emergency fund with your stimulus check. Already there? Set a goal to grow your cash savings to a specific amount, such as $10,000.
- Pull your credit report to review outstanding debts and protect against identity theft. Visit www.annualcreditreport.com to pull your credit report for free.
- Don't have credit in your own name? It may be time to apply for a credit card as the primary account holder to establish credit history.
- Negotiate rate plans with utility providers and ask about budget billing (alarm company, electric, home/cell phone, Internet, natural gas, trash pick-up, water, etc.). And, while you have them on the line, add your spouse as an authorized person on the account.
- Create a budget. Separate your needs from discretionary wants or convenience expenses. And, determine which costs you can cut immediately should you experience a reduction or loss of income. Be mindful of non-essential, recurring subscription services such as video or music streaming services. They can add up quickly!
- Understand the cost of your existing debt and consider how to reduce it. For example, if your car is in good shape and paid off, you may be able to borrow against your vehicle's equity with a car loan. The proceeds can be used to pay off or reduce higher interest rate credit cards.
- Determine if your disability and life insurance coverages are adequate to maintain your lifestyle. Have your current needs surpassed your existing coverage?
- Conduct an insurance review of your home and vehicles. A current property assessment can confirm if your home and belongings are properly insured for full replacement.
- Pull out your phone and take a video of each room, opening drawers and closets, and narrating where special items were purchased. If you have receipts of your most treasured possessions, be sure to store digital copies with your video in the cloud.
- When reviewing your auto policies, do not overlook uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage. This protection is in place to safeguard you and your loved ones.
Long-Term Savings and Retirement Planning
- Speak with a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional to understand the underlying risk and volatility in your 401(k) or other investments. And, use this time to consolidate your old 401(k) plans into your current employer's 401(k) or into an IRA that you control.
- Establish a Roth IRA (or for higher-wage earners ask an IRA Specialist about a backdoor Roth). During the current stock market environment, consider a Roth IRA conversion.
- Before retiring and leaving your salary and vacation benefits, practice living on a reduced income. Talk with a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional to determine your retirement readiness.
Healthcare and Legacy Planning
- Compile a list of medications, surgeries, health conditions and providers for everyone in your household. Carry a copy with you and share a digital version with your Healthcare Power of Attorney.
- Review your beneficiary designations for all of your life insurance policies and retirement and investment accounts.
- Help your aging parents get organized. Need help? Consider a family meeting facilitated by a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional.
- Preserve your family's story by digitally storing your family photos, recipes and historic moments. Take the time to write down how your family is navigating these challenging times, what has surprised you and what benefits may have come out of your changed circumstances.
To get started tending to your finances while working at home, look into attending a free Delta Community Financial Education Center webinar on practical topics ranging from Understanding Credit or the Psychology of Spending to Identity Theft Solutions and Financial Planning through Transition. Please visit the Financial Education Center's Event Calendar to register for our on-demand webinars.