July is a good month to review your finances for the year and prepare for the next half.
Here are a few recommended financial to-do’s this month:
Double Check Your Tax Withholdings
Midyear has always been a good time to make sure that you’re not paying too much or too little in taxes. It’s particularly important after the changes to the tax code that repealed personal exemptions.
If you didn’t update your W-4 form to reflect that change, you probably got slammed by owing money this past April. If that’s the case, you’ve got plenty of incentive to make sure to update your W-4 now.
Even if you did update your withholdings already, July is a good time to check and see whether you’re on target.
Check in on Your Financial Goals
While you’re at it, this is a great time to check on your financial goals for the year.
Here are some things you should focus on before year-end:
- Make sure you have contributed enough to your 401(k) and to your other retirement accounts.
- Complete your college savings contributions.
- Don’t forget your RMDs!
- Manage your income and deductions.
- Make your charitable contributions.
Make a Budget and Scale Back Spending
Summer is often a time when people overspend, the experts say. Having and periodically reviewing a budget can help you keep track of where your money goes, and it’s not too late to create one you if you haven’t already. “We recommend the 50/30/20 rule for budgeting. You should be spending 50 percent on essential expenses, 30 percent on discretionary expenses, and 20 percent towards your goals.
If your discretionary funds are less than you’d like, choose some activities that you’d be willing to eliminate.
Invest for a Brighter Future
Another great way to achieve financial freedom is to save and invest for a secure, comfortable retirement. Maximize your contributions to any tax-advantaged retirement savings accounts that you qualify for, such as a 401(k) plan or individual retirement account (IRA). If you’re an employee and your employer offers to match your plan contributions up to a certain percentage, make sure that you contribute enough to receive the full employer match.
If you’re already maxing out your tax-advantaged retirement savings accounts, consider setting up a brokerage account to invest in a diversified portfolio of stocks, bonds and mutual funds.
Financial freedom is not just about dollars and cents; it’s a state of mind. By getting out of debt, by prioritizing your spending on what really matters, by building an emergency cash savings fund and by investing for the future, you will build a stronger and more resilient foundation for your own life and for those you love. The sense of security and the safety net of having your personal finances in order can help you feel more confident, more peaceful and, yes, more free.
Connect with Delta Jones-Walker and Atled Financial on Facebook, Twitter: @Atled_Financial and LinkedIn! To schedule a free consultation or a presentation to your group or organization, call 219-513-3710 or email [email protected] and mention this column. Topic ideas for this column are welcome!
Securities and investment advisory services offered through Woodbury Financial Services, Inc. (WFS) member FINRA/SIPC. WFS is separately owned and other entities and/or marketing names, products or services referenced here are independent of WFS. Insurance services offered through Atled Financial Group 3801 Ridge Road. Highland, IN 46322