Like our health, many of us take our finances for granted. I know I do. But every once and awhile we should do a financial checkup to make sure everything is running as smoothly as we think it should be.
You should do a financial checkup at least once a year, or with every major life event such changing jobs, getting laid off, getting married, having a child, a death in the family, etc. My wife and I are expecting our first child in the next few months, so we are due for a financial check up.
How to do a financial checkup
It can take awhile to complete all these tasks, so you may prefer to do them one at a time if you can’t do them all at once.
Identify your financial goals. Have you ever set financial goals and if so, have they changed since the last time you set them? Make sure you and your partner are working toward the same financial goals and things will be easier.
Examine your personal situation. Have any major life events occurred in your life or are you expecting any major changes in the near future? If so, take these changes into consideration and modify your previous financial plan.
Evaluate your budget and spending. You may find it easier to use a tool like YNAB or Quicken to track your budget and spending, or one of these free money management tools. An important thing to look at is your monthly cash flow. Are you living paycheck to paycheck, or is there some cushion in your budget? Have you added any bills or monthly payments since you last reviewed your budget?
Debt and savings. Do you have any outstanding debt and are you working toward eliminating it? Do you have an emergency fund or any other savings? Are you making progress toward your savings goals?
Investment and retirement checkup. Are you saving enough money to meet your retirement goals? Have you checked your asset allocation recently? Do you own too much company stock? Are you maxing out your retirement funds?
Asset protection. Do you have enough insurance to cover your major assets like your homeowners insurance and vehicle insurance? Do you have life insurance? What about disability insurance? You should also make sure your will or estate plan is up to date.
Other factors specific to your situation. You may have other financial interests you should review, particularly if you have a business, rental properties, medical issues, irregular income, or other factors that can affect your finances.
Our financial checkup
My wife and I appear to be doing well, but with the baby on the way, there are some major changes we will be experiencing, including lower income and higher expenses. We have been preparing for this for some time now, so I think we will be fine. But it is something we will need to monitor. My wife and I will also need to buy more life insurance soon. We have a small amount through my employer, but it will not be enough now that we have a child on the way.
Other resources that you mind helpful for your financial checkup:
- Essential elements of a financial plan.
- Financial health test.
- Dave Ramsey’s path to financial freedom.