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Making the Most of Your Mid-Year Financial Checkup

July 12, 2022

Let’s face it, staying on top of your personal finances can be stressful. A mid-year financial check-up can help ensure you’re on the right track and put your mind at ease.  

Why Mid-Year Financial Checkups Work 

Setting financial goals and developing a budget at the start of the year can help you take stock of your finances and reflect on what is important to you in the coming year.  

Checking in mid-year can help you reflect on your progress and make tweaks to ensure you reach your targets. It is also a great time to reevaluate your plans. Maybe you want to change your priorities, or start saving up for something important to you, or pay down your debt faster. By taking stock of your financial standing at least twice a year, you’ll set yourself up for better success.

8 Ideas for Your 2022 Mid-Year Financial Checkup 

1. Redo your budget. 

Your budget should be a top priority for any financial checkup. If you created a new budget at the beginning of the year, now is the perfect time to reflect on how well that budget is working for you. Have you made progress toward your goals? If not, consider making tweaks or cutting a few expenses to help build momentum throughout the rest of the year.  

This is also a good time to decide if your budget is really working for you. If you created a detailed budget, for example, but you’re struggling to stick to it you might consider shifting to a more flexible spending plan. Remember, there is no one right way to manage your money.  

2. Review your credit report. 

Checking your credit report helps you make sure you’re in good shape should you need to apply for new credit. But even if you’re not actively looking to borrow money, checking on your credit report allows you to make sure you’re not a victim of identity theft or fraud. It’s also the first step in correcting any information that you feel is inaccurate.

3. Renegotiate your lease. 

Rent rates are rising nationwide. Between 2021 and 2022, rent for a one bedroom increased 12.8% while two bedrooms increased 13.9%, according to Zumper’s National Rent Report. As of 2022, the median price for a one bedroom was $1,414 per month. A two bedroom runs $1,758 per month.   

The good news is you may not have to move to find a better deal. Landlords want to keep good tenants. If your lease is ending soon, start by looking at similar listings nearby to get a sense of the market. Decide on a price that seems fair and manageable to you and ask your landlord if they’re willing to negotiate on the rent. Offering an incentive—like signing a longer lease or paying the last month’s rent upfront—may help swing things in your favor.  

4. Review your health insurance 

If you’ve been furloughed or laid off during the past year, check the status of your health insurance. If your financial situation has changed and you want to sign up for a new plan, see if you qualify for the special enrollment period. Several life events like losing your health insurance after a layoff, moving, getting married or divorced, or having a baby may qualify you for a special enrollment period.  

5. Review contributions to your retirement accounts. 

Haven’t reviewed your 401(k) plan since you started your job? You’re not alone, but now is a good time to start. If your employer offers a company match to your 401(k) plan, and you’re not taking advantage, you could be leaving money on the table.   

Beyond contribution rates, it can be a good idea to look at your investment strategy and see if it still works for your goals. This isn’t something you have to do alone. Many companies offer assistance with 401(k) planning. You can also reach out to a certified financial planner to help you develop (or tweak) your retirement plan.  

6. Check in on your taxes. 

It’s always a good idea to review your tax withholdings mid-year to ensure you’re not over- or under-contributing (and then make adjustments accordingly). According to the website WiserAdvisor, which helps consumers find the right financial advisor for their financial planning needs, “A semi-annual assessment of your taxes can help you reduce your tax burden and mitigate tax consequences. Moreover, major life changes, like marriage, having a child, getting divorced, etc. can also alter the amount of tax you pay.” 

7. Reexamine your debt strategies. 

If you’re having trouble finding the motivation to repay your debt, consider the “debt snowball” method. With this strategy, you pay as much as you can each month toward your smallest debt while paying only the minimum due on your other debts. When the first debt is paid off, you move on to the next smallest, and so on until you work your way up to your largest.  

If you’re motivated to pay off your debt but feeling overwhelmed by interest rates and overall costs, the “debt avalanche” method could be the strategy you need. With this method, you begin by paying your debts with the highest interest rates first, paying only the minimum on your other debts, then moving on to the next highest, and so on. This method requires more discipline, but it could save you more money in the long run and help you pay off debt faster.  

8. Revisit your financial goals 

The events of 2020 set millions of Americans back financially, and it may take years to recover. If the pandemic has caused you to delay some of your big plans, like the purchase of a new home or car—or even an early retirement—you’re far from alone. Though this is heartbreaking, some experts believe this new reality is an opportunity to bring about true financial change. “As we assess what’s next as individuals and a society, we have a fresh opportunity to envision the future,” says John Schlifske, CEO of Northwestern Mutual. “After more than a year of disruption and loss, it’s a great time to rewrite the rules to emerge stronger, more resilient, and with greater financial security.” 

Taking Action After Your Mid-Year Financial Checkup 

A mid-year financial checkup should give you a clear idea of what actions you need to take to stay on track for your goals. Even if you’ve been hard hit by the pandemic, these tried-and-true recommendations can help you keep moving forward this year. 

1. Rebuild your emergency fund. 

According to a recent study conducted by CNBC and Survey Monkey, 14% of Americans—up to 46 million people—say they wiped out their emergency savings over the course of the pandemic.  

If that’s you, don’t panic—that’s why we have emergency funds. But now it’s time to start rebuilding. Allocate a certain amount each month towards your savings, and then commit to sticking with it until you have at least three months of living expenses covered. It can take a while, but it’s worth it.  

2. Monitor your spending. 

Go through your last few months’ bank and credit card statements and make a list of all expenses you can either cut back on or eliminate altogether. And don’t stop at the shopping and eating out expenses—take a close look at all your monthly subscriptions and memberships. Chances are there are at least a few services you’re paying for that you’ve forgotten about.  

3. Get a break on your insurance rates. 

Many insurance carriers now offer discounts to loyal customers with safe driving records. If you’ve been paying the same rate for years, consider contacting your provider about potential discounts. It can also pay to shop around. Compare rates against a few insurance companies to ensure you’re still getting the best deal.  

4. Get cozy with your credit score.  

A higher credit score can grant you access to credit card and interest rates, better car insurance rates, and higher borrowing limits. But don’t be discouraged if your score has dropped over the last year. Instead, focus on making on time payments across all your credit accounts, and work on paying down debt. Both of these are major factors in determining your score.  

 5. Renegotiate cable and internet bills. 

If you’re struggling to keep up with your cable and internet bills, try renegotiating your rates with your current provider instead of immediately switching to another. You might be surprised by how much you can knock off your bill just by asking. There might be a special deal you haven’t heard about, or your provider might be willing to offer you a discount to keep you from jumping ship.  

6. Consider your loan options. 

If your credit score has improved in the last year, you may save money by refinancing your home, auto, or student loans. In most cases, the goal when refinancing is to get a better interest rate or loan terms, so make sure you shop around to find the best lender for your financial situation. At LendingClub, you can check your rate without impacting your credit score.  

The Bottom Line 

While doing an annual financial review is a smart way to end the year, examining your finances at the midway point is a good practice to help maintain control over your money. A mid-year financial checkup allows you to assess your progress on financial goals and make any necessary adjustments—like retooling your budget, cash flow, spending, living expenses, and employment benefits. These checkups, combined with everyday financial health practices, can help you keep your personal finances on track, no matter what life may throw your way. 

 

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