How To Do a Financial Check-In

Natasha Khullar RelphNatasha Khullar Relph

Mar 22, 2024

How To Do a Financial Check-In

When it comes to money, a regular financial check-in can be a critical tool. It allows you to take stock of your financial health, identify areas for improvement, and course-correct as needed. It’s the foundational groundwork that positions you to make informed decisions and prepare for uncertainties while giving you a game plan for the year ahead. 

Here’s how to do a financial check-in simply and effectively:

Step 1: Know Where You Currently Stand

Conducting a financial check-up begins with evaluating your current financial situation comprehensively. This involves examining your income sources, stability, and any fluctuations or changes that might have occurred recently. Here’s how to get started:

  • Gather your financial information: Collect all relevant financial documents, including bank statements, investment portfolios, mortgage statements, credit card bills, student loan statements, and any other records that reflect your finances.
  • Calculate your net worth: To calculate your net worth, subtract your liabilities (debts) from your assets (savings, investments, retirement accounts, property). This number will give you a high-level view of your financial well-being and standing.
  • Review your income and expenses: The stability of your income is key to financial wellness. How much do you have coming in regularly that you can depend on? Further, evaluate your outgoings, categorizing your expenses into essentials (housing, utilities, groceries) and discretionary (entertainment, dining out, subscriptions) to understand where your money goes.
  • Check your credit score: Retrieve your credit report from major credit bureaus. You can do so for free at AnnualCreditReport.com or call 1-877-322-8228 to have it sent to you. A good credit score increases your eligibility for favorable loan terms and financial opportunities, so if your credit score is low, make improving it a priority goal for the new year.
  • Understand your debt obligations: List all your outstanding debts. List them in order of interest rates so you can prioritize high-interest credit card debts for quicker repayment, save on interest costs, and boost your credit rating.
  • Evaluate your emergency fund: Experts suggest setting aside three to six months’ worth of living expenses in case of job losses, medical issues, or other unforeseen circumstances. Do you have enough saved in your emergency fund to get you through a difficult time?
  • Consider life’s changes: A new job, a growing family, or upcoming major expenses can change your plans and influence your financial situation and goals.

Step 2: Update or Set New Financial Goals

Setting financial goals helps you chart a roadmap for your financial journey. By outlining clear objectives, you empower yourself to make informed choices and achieve financial milestones effectively. Here’s what you need to think about when setting goals:

  • Evaluate past goals: Review your financial goals from last year and assess their progress. Identify what worked, what needs improvement, and if there are any unmet objectives.
  • Define clear objectives: Establish specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART) financial goals. Whether it’s saving for a down payment, clearing debt, or building an emergency fund, make your goals quantifiable and realistic.
  • Distinguish between short- and long-term goals: It’s important not to confuse short-term goals (achievable within a year) with long-term aspirations (over five years or more). Balance these to ensure you’re meeting immediate needs and experiencing quick wins while simultaneously planning for the future.
  • Prioritize your goals: Rank your goals in order of importance. Determine which goals are urgent, like paying off high-interest debts, and which are more long-term, such as retirement planning or saving for a child’s education.
  • Allocate resources: How much time, money, and effort will be required to hit each goal? Assess how much you need to contribute regularly to achieve these targets within your set timeframes.
  • Set and celebrate milestones: Breaking larger goals into smaller milestones can make them more manageable and help you track your progress more effectively.
  • Regularly review and adjust: Revisit and adjust your goals as your financial situation evolves. Life changes and unexpected events might require changing your objectives.

Step 3: Adjust Your Financial Strategies

As you progress through your personal finance check-in, it’s crucial to adapt and fine-tune your strategies to align with your newly set goals. Flexibility and adaptability are key to ensuring your financial plan remains practical and relevant. Here’s how you can recalibrate your financial approach:

  • Review budgeting techniques: Revisit your budgeting methods for increased efficiency. Identify areas where adjustments can be made to better allocate funds toward your new goals. Trim unnecessary expenses or find cost-effective alternatives without compromising your lifestyle.
  • Reassess investment strategies: Evaluate your investment portfolios against your revised financial goals. Consider diversifying investments or reallocating assets to better suit your new goals.
  • Explore refinancing options: For debts like mortgages, student loans, or personal loans, consider whether refinancing can help secure lower interest rates or modified terms from new lenders. When done smartly, these can create significant long-term savings.
  • Create additional income streams: Look for opportunities to increase your income. This might involve exploring side gigs, freelance work, or pursuing professional development to boost your earning potential.
  • Plan for taxes: Talk to your tax or financial advisor about tax planning strategies that reflect changes in your income or investments. Don’t forget to explore potential deductions or tax withholding options.

Step 4: Revisit Your Financial Safety Nets

Maintaining and fortifying your financial safety net is as important as saving more and investing. Doing so allows you to safeguard yourself and your loved ones against unexpected financial challenges, providing peace of mind. Here’s what you need to look at:

  • Insurance coverage: Assess your insurance policies comprehensively. Ensure that your life, health, property, homeowners insurance, and other insurance coverage is current and aligned with your needs. 
  • Emergency funds: What’s the status of your emergency fund? Is it sufficient to cover unforeseen expenses or financial emergencies? Do you have three to six months’ living expenses in an easily accessible savings account?
  • Estate planning: Review and update your wills, trusts, and estate plans as needed. Life changes, such as marriage, having children, or major asset acquisitions, may necessitate revisions to your legal documents. Make sure your beneficiaries and directives accurately reflect your wishes.
  • Long-term security: Retirement savings, investments, and additional savings are vital components that contribute to financial security in the long run. Reassess your contributions and make necessary adjustments to meet your future objectives.

Step 5: Implement Changes and Schedule Regular Reviews

Now, it’s time to translate the insights gained from the assessment into actionable steps. This phase includes outlining specific strategies, setting realistic timelines, and implementing changes. Taking action on your financial plans is crucial, but consistently reviewing and adapting these strategies is equally important. Here’s how:

  • Put your plan into action: Implement the financial changes identified in your assessment and goal setting. Adjust your budget, investment portfolio, debt repayment, and savings plans according to your outlined strategies.
  • Set up periodic reviews: A financial review is not a one-and-done process. Schedule regular check-ins to evaluate your financial progress. Whether monthly, quarterly, or semi-annually, these reviews allow you to track how well you’re sticking to your plan and make necessary adjustments. A mid-year financial check-in can prevent you from veering off course by flagging inconsistencies early on.
  • Adapt plans and goals: Life isn’t static, and neither are financial circumstances. Be flexible in adjusting your goals and plans to accommodate changes. Adapt your financial strategies accordingly, whether it’s a new job, a major life event, or shifts in the economy.
  • Maintain discipline and patience: Stay committed to your financial goals and exercise patience. Financial stability takes time. Consistency and discipline in adhering to your plans can yield long-term benefits.
  • Celebrate milestones: Acknowledge and celebrate your financial victories. Every milestone achieved, whether paying off a portion of debt, reaching a savings target, or consistently following your budget, is a step closer to your financial freedom.

Regularly reviewing and adjusting your financial strategies ensures they align with your goals and current circumstances. By staying proactive and adaptable, you can achieve financial stability and success in the long run.

At Arrived, our mission is to provide financial freedom for everybody. One way we do this is through our Single Family Residential Fund, which contains multiple properties in a number of markets with one-click diversification. 

Disclaimers

The opinions expressed in this article are for general informational purposes only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual or on any specific security or investment product. The views reflected in the commentary are subject to change at any time without notice.

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