Each quarter, I like to do a financial check in. It’s a good reminder to reevaluate some topics that have been on the backburner and a great time to address new topics that depend on the time of year.
With tax season complete and summer on the way, here are tips to get your finances in order this quarter; some from me, and some from readers.
Second Quarter Financial Tips
- Asset Allocation Rebalancing. After the stock market losses and recent rally, check to see if your asset allocation matches your target asset allocation. I had to move a chunk of money from bonds to stocks to rebalance, but I’ll be glad I did down the road.
- Plan for 2009 Taxes. You should be receiving your Make Working Pay Tax Credit by now. Evaluate your tax situation for the year and make sure your withholding is correct. You can use the IRS withholding calculator.
- Review the Economic Stimulus Plan. The economic stimulus plan had lots of different components. Make sure you’re taking advantage of any of the programs you qualify for.
- Evaluate Your New Year’s Resolution. How are you doing? My plan for Organization and Execution is moving along slowly, but I have gotten some of the things I wanted done out of the way.
- Install Energy Efficient Upgrades. Install upgrades to your windows, doors, heating systems or other appliances this year for a 30% ($1,500 maximum) energy tax credit. We used ours in back in 2006 and were pleased with the results. Check the product list for all eligible products and limits.
- Update Your Budget. Does it seem like summertime always blows a hole in your budget? Plan now how much you want to spend on summer vacation, landscaping and home projects, and events you need to attend like weddings and graduations. Be sure that they are all accounted for in your budget.
- Shop Insurance Rates. It’s a good idea to shop your insurance rates yearly to make sure you are getting a good deal. If you stick with your current company, evaluate your discounts and the programs available. I had to recently switch my car to a pleasure rate since I no longer commute to work and I saved a few bucks.
- Adjust Your Finances for a New Baby. If you recently had a new addition to the family, you’ll want to make financial plans for a new baby including taking advantage of the 529 sign up bonus.
- Discuss Summer Plans With Your Kids. Do they want to look for a summer job? If so, now’s a great time to start looking.
- Updated your Personal Financial Statement. Update your personal financial statement (net worth) and monitor it at least once a year, but better yet would be twice a year or quarterly. – Mark Nelson
- Make Plans for Homebuying. If you are going to take advantage of the $8,000 First Time Home Buyer Tax Credit later this year, get your finances in order now to prepare. You can get your Free FICO Scores and Credit Reports to get started.
- Refinance. If you already own a home, I’m sure you are watching rates to see how low they’ll go to find the right Time to Refinance. If your circumstances have changed, also look into the Making Home Affordable program for refinance and loan modification options.
- Save Money for Graduation Transition. Having just been offered a great job and with my college graduation looming ahead, my main task is to save about $11,000. Based on some rough calculations, I think I will need about that much to move to the new city (where my job is), get an apartment, car, and new wardrobe. I’m excited! – Greg
- Create a Jump Bag. Are you prepared for a region wide disaster? As thunderstorms and tornadoes often roll through my neck of the woods, this got pushed to the top of the list recently. The bag contains anything you think you might need if you had to get out of your house in 5 minutes or less. Flashlight, food, water, change of underwear are some of the basics. A flash drive with a password protected spreadsheet listing both spouse’s accounts and how to access them is going to be in mine! – Danielle
- Sign up for CSAs. CSAs offer a share of a farmer’s crop for the season. They’re healthy, the price is right, and sometimes they come with a Health Insurance reimubursement. If you don’t want to commit to a whole season, check the schedule for your local farmer’s market; ours opened last weekend.
- Enroll in Discounted Summer Programs. Find out what kind of programs your local schools and parks and recreation departments offer. It’s usually a cheap way for summer sporting fun and exercise. They offer programs for kids, teens, and adults. Our signups begin next week, and many of the programs fill quickly.