Iowa Fiduciary

7 Steps for Your Fall Financial Checkup

With Fall officially here, now is the perfect time to do your financial checkup with Johnson Wealth & Income Management.

You’ve made it through the first nine months of the year and it’s time to take a break from barbecues and beaches to review your finances. With summer officially closed, and Fall beginning, now is a perfect time to review your finances before the busy holiday season. It also allows you to close out the year confidently and help make tax time much easier on yourself early next year.

Here is a list of seven steps you can take to help get the most out of your financial Fall check up.

Analyze Your Spending

Analyzing your spending is a great way to see where you’re falling behind each month. Consider your monthly financial obligations, along with entertainment and other leisure spending to get a baseline idea of where you’re at.

After reviewing your monthly budget, adjust it as necessary. It’s important to always budget for holidays, as they can be expensive. With Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s and other holidays on the way, it’s easy for all of these expenses to add up quickly. Especially if you’re planning a winter getaway or have family you’ll be traveling to see.

Start by creating a holiday budget so you know how much money you have available for gifts, travel, and costumes this year. Once you have an idea of what you may be spending, start putting a little extra away each paycheck. You’ll thank yourself when it comes time to buy presents, or put together that Thanksgiving spread. 

Anticipate Large Expenses

When you’re planning for the immediate future, it’s important to consider the large expenses you may have coming in the next few months. This can include household appliances that may need replacing or an anticipated medical expense that is not fully covered by insurance.

Next, determine the spending category you will take the money from to cover these expenses. Deciding on a source for these funds now will help you avoid making the wrong choices when you’re under pressure in the future.

If you do not have enough money set aside for these expenses, build a savings plan into your monthly budget so you have the funds available when you need them, or as a last case scenario, apply for a personal loan online.

Review Your Tax Withholding

Still in the workforce? Nobody likes taxes, and on top of this, if you’re part of the majority and get paid biweekly, it can be hard to keep track of how much tax is being withheld from your paycheck.

The good news is that there’s an easy way to check whether or not your withholding amounts are correct. All you have to do is run some quick calculations and compare them with what you’ve been given by your employer.

If it turns out that you’re not getting enough money taken out of your paycheck each pay period, then you may want to talk with a financial advisor about adjusting your withholding amounts. The goal is to pay the perfect amount, so you’re not hit with a huge tax bill at the end of the year, but you’re also not lending the government your money all year long.

Monitor Your Credit Score

As you begin to approach retirement you’re likely thinking more about wealth preservation than you are about credit scoring. Your borrowing days may be behind you. Even after retirement, however, your credit scores still matter for a variety of reasons, not the least being that your existing creditors will continue to check them from time to time. The good news? The recipe for maintaining good credit scores is essentially the same whether you are a young adult or a retiree. If you’ve figured out how to achieve high credit scores prior to retirement, then the odds are pretty good that you can maintain pace well into your golden years.

If you’re using a budgeting app, chances are it comes with a free FICO credit score monitor. Credit scores are important to keep an eye on—they give you a snapshot of how your financial life is faring, and they can help you spot trends in your spending and saving habits.

Even more good news is that if your score has improved over the last few months, that’s great! It means you’re making positive changes to your credit profile. That could mean paying off debt or setting up automatic payments on some of your bills.

Conversely, if your score has dropped, take some time to review your report in detail. If there’s anything wrong with it—whether it be an erroneous charge or something else—you can contest it with the Federal Trade Commission. If there are any changes you’d like to make to improve your score (for example, lowering your credit utilization rate by paying with plastic less often), set up automatic payments for those as well.

Review Investments

Investing is a serious matter, and it’s important to consider the timing, diversity and dollar commitments you put towards your portfolio.. At the end of the day, we’re all human and prone to making mistakes—even if we think we aren’t!

That’s why it’s so important that you speak with your Fiduciary financial advisor before diverting from your investment plan. September is a great time to review your plan and consider changing strategies if necessary. This includes your retirement funds, stock investments, bonds, trust funds and share certificates. Make sure you are maximizing your contributions when possible and that your other investments are performing according to plan.

And remember- no matter how much money you have in retirement accounts or other investments, diversification is key to a healthy portfolio!

Review Your Health Insurance

If you’re looking for health insurance coverage for next year, you need to know about the open enrollment period.

Open enrollment begins on Tuesday November 1, 2022 and ends on Thursday December 15, 2022. If you want to be covered starting January 1, 2023 you will need to enroll on or before December 15th. If you’re already enrolled in private health insurance or health insurance through your employer, check with them for important dates and deadlines that you should know about.

Most advisors recommend doing as much research as possible early on so that you have the best plan for yourself and your family. Waiting until the last minute could add stress to an already busy holiday season.

Review Your Long-Term Goals

The end of the year is a great time to collect yourself and reflect on the decisions you’ve made. It’s also a great time to set goals for the year ahead.

If you haven’t already, it’s time to take another look at your financial resolutions from last year. Did you make any progress toward those goals? If so, great! If not, what can you do differently this year? You may need to reorder your priorities or create systems that help keep you on track with your goals. Something like an excel file, a whiteboard that you see daily or a journal are all ways that can help keep you honest.

How Johnson Wealth and Income Management Can Help

With Fall’s arrival, now is the time to revisit your finances to see what you need to do to finish out the year strong.  Make sure you’re making your checklist and checking it twice this season!

If you have any questions regarding retirement savings, money management, investment strategies and tax planning for 2023, it’s always important to check in with your trusted financial advisor at Johnson Wealth and Income Management. Our commitment is to help you work towards achieving all your financial goals and to help provide you with a “worry free” retirement.

For more information contact us today!

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