While the beginning of the year is a great time to evaluate your finances and figure out your financial plan for the year, it shouldn’t be the end of all your financial discussions for the year. Circumstances can change fast in six months, and you should always be prepared to pivot when needed, especially in these times of massive inflation and talk of a potential recession on the horizon.

Now that you’ve let your financial plan develop, take some time to review everything you’ve set up. What is doing well? What can be improved? This can be a big task, so try starting with the following steps to make sure you end the year strong.

Step #1: Evaluate Your Budget

Most people develop a budget at the beginning of a year to accommodate their new financial goals. Budgets are a great way to stay on track, but you can’t just “set it and forget it” every year. Sometimes you make a budget with really ambitious goals and find yourself struggling to stick with it. Sometimes you have no idea where to start and make some estimates in your budget that turn out to be completely wrong. All of these things are a natural part of the budgeting process and it’s okay to admit you need to make changes. It’s better to adjust now than stick to a plan that’s not working for you.

At this time, look at your budget. What’s working? What’s not working? Are your goals being met with the current budget plan? At this time, you may realize you’re not actually saving as much money as you thought and need to adjust. Maybe you had to make expensive repairs on your home and couldn’t pay as much of your debt off as you wanted for several months. Now is the time to regroup and see if changing your financial plan will help you be more financially settled.

Step #2: Focus on bad spending habits and eliminate them

After you’ve evaluated your budget, you will probably notice a pattern in your spending habits. If these are primarily expenses for things you don’t need that are taking away from your financial goals, this is where you’ll need to identify and eliminate these additional expenses. It’s okay to purchase things that you enjoy from time to time, but if you are constantly spending without saving, you’re setting yourself up for failure down the road. Take some time to strategize a plan that will eliminate the temptation to purchase things you don’t need.

Step #3: Boost Retirement Contributions

Another good step to take after you’ve reviewed your budget is to boost your retirement contributions. A lot of people forget this step as they get a raise or promotion at work. You want to make sure you’re on track for retirement so you aren’t more stressed down the road. If you’re at an age where you can do catch-up contributions, take advantage of that opportunity.

Step #4: Review your FSA or HSA

If you have a flexible or health savings account, the middle of the year is a great time to evaluate your medical expenses to date. Can you make changes based on usage? Do you need to sign up for a different plan next year? This is a great time to look into those expenses and address any changes that need to be made. It’s also a great time to make any other medical appointments you need to make through the rest of the year.

Step #5: Check on student loans or college savings accounts

Even though student loan payments have been deferred for several years, if you have loans out, it’s a good idea to check on them regularly, make note of the amount, and determine a plan to pay them off or refinance. If you’re planning on a 529 savings account for your children’s school experience, make note of what amount you’re putting in each month. Do you need to bump the amount up or stay steady? Do you need to reduce the amount because you or your child are changing schools or pursuing different opportunities? Don’t let that money sit there without purpose.

Step #6: Manage and Prioritize Debts

Most Americans have some form of debt. It’s incredibly important to not let this debt overwhelm your life and your financial future. Make sure you have a plan in place for paying off your debt. If you’ve gotten into more debt since the start of the year or have several loans with extremely high interest, now may be the time to reevaluate your plan and tackle some of these bigger debts. If your previous debt repayment plan wasn’t working, try something new! It’s important to not get overwhelmed by the amount, but instead tackle it with small, easy-to-follow steps.

Step #7: Inspect your credit report

A big part of reaching your financial goals is being able to understand, interpret, and utilize your credit report to your own benefit. If you have big financial goals, like buying a new car, home, or even opening a new credit card, having a strong credit score is a big part of the process. Regularly checking your credit report will ensure that you’re keeping your finances on track, alert you to potential fraud, and give you a picture into your credit habits. This will help you make better decisions in the future as you see where your money is going.

Step #8: Update Estate Plan

The future is uncertain. If you have any kind of estate planning that you need to do, no matter what age you are, now is the time to get that done. If you’ve had recent deaths, marriages, or births in the family, now is the time to add or remove those names to reflect your most current wishes. Don’t wait until the end of the year to make those adjustments. You wouldn’t want to leave your finances in the hands of a stranger who doesn’t understand your wishes. It may seem morbid, but you never know what could happen and need to be prepared financially.

In Conclusion

While New Years is a great time to reflect on the last year and make new plans for the future, it shouldn’t be the end of your financial journey. The middle of the year is the perfect time to stop, take stock of your current financial situation, and make changes as needed. If you have a partner, include them in the decision-making process. You won’t regret the time you’ve spent doing extra planning.

If you need help setting up new accounts, adjusting your transfer amounts, or have questions on bank products that can help you stay on track with your financial goals, know that our Availa Bank team is always available to help. Give us a call, fill out our contact form, or stop by your local branch today!