October is National Financial Planning Month! There is never a bad time to take some positive action to improve your financial situation. Looking for some easy wins? Here are a few suggestions!
Create or revisit your budget
Budgeting is all about taking control and being intentional with your spending decisions. This is why sometimes a budget is called a “spending plan.” A budget, or spending plan, is a valuable tool for people of all income levels since we all want to be in control of our spending. If you’ve never created a spending plan, or if it’s been a while, the first step is understanding how you are currently spending your money. Tracking your expenses for a month or two will give you a good idea of how you’re spending your money.
Once you understand how you’re spending your money, you can decide whether your current spending reflects your priorities. If it doesn’t, you will be better able to see areas to reduce or increase spending to realign with your priorities.
Check your beneficiaries
Who will receive your financial accounts when you pass away? When you set up any type of financial account, such as a bank account, retirement account, or life insurance policy, you will have the option to designate a beneficiary. When this occurs, you are choosing for that person to receive the asset (or a portion of the asset in the event of multiple beneficiaries) and thereby avoiding the probate process and the inclusion of the asset in your estate.
It is important to review and update your beneficiary designations at every major life event such as a divorce, birth of a child, retirement, a new job, etc.
Create a will if you don’t have one
Some studies show that 68% of Americans don’t have a will. Do you? A Last Will & Testament should be the starting point for any estate plan. It is the foundational document that states how you desire your assets to be distributed in the event of your passing.
The will should list your property and assets and should specify who you intend to inherit each asset. These people are often your family and loved ones, such as your spouse and children. By establishing a will and keeping it updated, you are ensuring that your assets will be protected and will go to the right people should anything happen to you. This document can also be used to designate guardians for your children.
Increase your retirement plan contributions
For many people, their workplace retirement plan, usually a 401(k) or 403(b), is the primary way they are saving and investing for retirement. One problem is that many people never increase their contribution after they initially enroll in the plan.
How much are you contributing? Have you increased your contributions recently? Periodically increasing your contributions over time can make a significant difference in your long-term retirement savings. Many plans also allow you to set up automatic increases too. It may be time to bump up your contributions to the plan.
Cancel unused subscriptions
Do you know how much you pay on all your subscriptions? You know, things like Amazon Prime, Netflix, Spotify, nest, Audible…the list could go on!
In a recent survey, 54% of respondents underestimated how much they pay for subscriptions by more than $100 a month! In fact, the average monthly total of subscriptions was $219. Even if you think you know how much you spend, take the time to check your credit card or bank statements or your apps to see what you are really getting charged. If you see something you’re not using anymore, just cancel it.
Complete the Peace of Mind Checklist
If you were to pass away suddenly, would your spouse or executor know about all your accounts, the location of your will, and other key details of your estate?
In many families, one person tends to handle the majority of the finances but it’s important for both people to know about all the accounts and details. One way to ensure that all the details are available in an emergency is to write it down and keep it in a safe place.
Download our Peace of Mind Checklist and get started listing your important financial information. If anything should happen to you, your spouse will be grateful you did!
Meet with a financial advisor
Yes, we’re a little biased, but we think financial advisors are awesome and working with one has some great benefits! A competent financial advisor can give you peace of mind and bring objectivity and expertise to bear on your financial situation and help you make progress toward your financial goals.
Not sure how to find or choose a financial advisor? Read this blog: How to Choose a Financial Advisor
Looking for a Christian financial advisor who shares your value and will help you align your investments with your faith? Give us a call!
Screen your investments
Do you know what companies or business practices you are profiting from in your portfolio? Many people don’t know, and don’t realize that they may be profiting from things that go against their values like abortion, pornography, or addictive substances.
If you don’t know what you own, request a complimentary portfolio screening and we’ll help you find out!
Be thankful and generous
Despite whatever challenges you are facing right now, we each have so much to be thankful for and can rejoice that every good and perfect gift is from God (James 1:17). The reconciliation and new life we can have through Christ tops the list of greatest gifts, but God blesses us in so many other ways. Cultivating an attitude of thankfulness toward God and others can be life changing and also help with contentment.
One response to God’s extravagant generosity is the exhortation to be generous ourselves. If fact, the Bible affirms that we are blessed to be a blessing as Paul says in 2 Corinthians 9:11,
You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.
No matter your financial situation, be thankful to God for His blessings, and look for ways to bless others.
When is the best time to make positive financial changes? Today! We’re praying for you as you strive to be the best steward you can be! If you’d like a Christian financial advisor to walk with you on your stewardship journey, give us a call!
Do you know what business practices you are supporting through your current investments?
Want to learn more about how your faith can impact how you handle your finances?
Call us today! (540) 345-3891