Mid-Year Check-In: Are You on Track With These 5 Goals?
The summer months are a good reminder of how time flies when you’re working toward your personal goals. With the end of 2019 creeping up on the horizon, now’s a perfect time to do a financial wellness check and keep your finances in tip-top shape.
Here are a few areas to check-in with to make sure you’re on track for a financially fit year.
1. Your budget
Ideally, you kicked off this year by tackling the basics and setting a budget. This means that you know exactly how much money is coming in, how much is going out for monthly bills, and how much money you have left for savings and discretionary spending.
Whether you tracked your budget all for the past seven months using a handy spreadsheet or with an online tool, like Mint, you should be able to review your progress. Take a look at whether you were able to stick to your budget and see if you can find patterns where your spending or savings went off track.
This is your opportunity to make tweaks to your budget so it’s sustainable. For example, you might notice that you budgeted $400 a month for groceries. After looking at the past six months, you might find you only really spend $300 a month. By revisiting your budget, you can redirect that $100 toward another spending category or savings fund.
If you know you need to create a budget but haven’t put in the sweat to set one up yet, we get it — taking time to crunch the numbers takes a lot of work! Try setting aside an hour this weekend to set this foundation for the rest of your goals. You’ll see results sooner for it.
2. Your emergency savings
Whether you’re saving your first $1,000 emergency fund or are tackling your next rainy day milestone, revisit your emergency savings goals. Ask yourself how much you ultimately want to have in this fund (e.g. three-months’ worth of living expenses, maybe six or more?). Check in with your emergency fund to see how much you’ve set aside for the unexpected.
If you’re pacing ahead of your savings goal this year, congrats! That takes a lot of dedication. If you’re not quite where you hoped to be by this time, don’t get discouraged. Put any dollars from your budget that hasn’t been assigned a “role”, and funnel that extra cash into your emergency savings to get you back up to speed. It’s never too late to prepare for life’s “what ifs”.
3. Your retirement fund contributions
If you have an employer-sponsored 401(k) retirement fund or individual retirement account (IRA), mid-year is a great time to check-in on your retirement contributions. Although you don’t want to feed this fund to the point where you’re sacrificing monthly bills, it’s best to maximize your contributions as much as you reasonably can.
The IRS increased the contribution limit for 2019, depending on the retirement account you have. For 401(k) accounts, workers under 50 can contribute up to $19,000, and workers 50 or older can contribute a total of $25,000. IRA contribution limits are $6,000 for workers under 50 and $7,000 for workers 50 or older.
If you’re still saving for retirement based on outdated contribution limits, there’s still time to increase your contribution. This is also important, if your employer matches your contributions. Assess your budget and see where your contributions stand compared to IRS limits so you’re maximizing these tax-advantaged retirement fund accounts.
4. Your career
With year-end evaluations coming up around the corner, it’s helpful to reflect on your current job and where you want your career to be at the start of 2020. Consider whether your present role and responsibilities are challenging you and offering the kind of job satisfaction and growth you’re looking for.
If you’re laser-focused on a possible promotion or raise, share your career goals with your manager or HR department. It’s not enough to just say you want job advancement, it’s just as important to demonstrate why you deserve a pay bump or higher title. Jot down your professional wins from the first half of the year, and keep track of other accolades as you get closer to your work evaluation.
When you reflect on your present job and future career, you might find that you’re interested in transitioning into a new field or market. Trekking into the unknown can feel scary. Reach out to someone in that industry that you admire and respect to see if they’d be willing to offer advice over coffee. It’s amazing how much people are willing to offer insight, if you make the first move.
5. Your personal goals
It’s time to get introspective — not just about your money, but about what the big goal you want to accomplish in your life. After all, your personal goals inform your financial goals. Dig deep and ask yourself what your big goal looks like to you: is it taking your family on a summer-long trip abroad? Is it finally becoming a first time home buyer? Maybe it’s going back to school for your graduate degree.
Circle back with your personal goals to make sure your finances are still aligned. If they’re not, that's OK. The beauty of managing your personal finances is that it’s tailored to your goals at any point in your life.