(MP) As fall comes around it’s a reminder of autumn leaves, pumpkin pies and turkey. But for those serious about their financial futures, it’s a time to review our short-term and long-terms goals, and if you really want financial peace. Some people use January to review finances and will start a financial makeover if necessary. Others like you, see the importance of getting a jump ahead and will review and imply any necessary adjustments.
The way most experts recommend obtaining financial peace is confusing, frustrating, and quite simply don’t work. I like to keep it simple by showing you doable financial strategies that will transform your life in no time at all!
Identify Your financial peace
First, figure out what you want to achieve most in your life. Your monetary goals can range from buying a house to starting a business or retirement. Caution: without goals, any money you earn can easily be spent instead of saved for more important goals. As well as identifying monetary goals, estimate the amount of money you’ll need to accumulate to reach each goal. Start with short-term goals (5 years) and long-term goals (10 years). In short, set up a time horizon for each goal.
Time to review
Gather your short-term goals sheet, which should include things such as purchase of household furniture, minor home improvements, saving for a car down payment, etc. Next, look at our long-term goal’s sheet, things like, a second home, vacation home or retirement fund, to see if you’re on target. Finally, take a good look at your fiscal situation, including credit card debt, student loans, car loans, mortgages, etc. Make cuts to any of this debt to save money!
Give your bills a checkup
Review your bills. Are you paying the right amount for utilities, cable or broadband, phone, and other recurring monthly expenses? Are there any hidden fees? This is a good time to get organized or re-organized, adjust your data plan or cut out cable or satellite TV packages to save money.
How’s your rainy day fund
You should have an emergency fund by now. If you don’t, I recommend that you set aside six months of expenses in case you’re laid off or disabled. Don’t panic if you don’t have one already – you don’t need to create an emergency fund all at once. However, you should begin an emergency today. Even if you only budget $15 per month, it’s a nice way to start. Suze Orman wrote a great piece on Oprah.com regarding emergency funds.
Start Over if necessary
How important is each of your goals? Your first priority is to save and invest for your retirement. This means that before anything else, a part or percentage of your paycheck is invested into a 401k retirement plan at work, an IRA or Roth IRA, on a regular basis. Only after that occurs does extra money get earmarked for other monetary goals like saving for a house or new car.
Pay attention to open enrollment
Many employees benefit plans run open enrollment — the period when you can make changes or sign up for new benefits — at this time of year. Your financial makeover may mean taking advantage of any vision, dental, and health insurance, and contributing to your employer’s retirement plan. Look at how much you spent this year on healthcare costs and see if a healthcare savings account may benefit your family.
Also, beware of the yearly period when you can enroll in a health insurance plan through the Health Insurance Marketplace. How can we have financial peace without it! For 2016 coverage, the Open Enrollment Period is November 1, 2015 – January 31, 2016. You may qualify for Special Enrollment Periods allowing you to enroll outside of Open Enrollment if you have certain qualifying life events, like getting married, having a baby, or moving to a new state.