Time truly flies! In a blink we are three quarters of the way through the year. The weather is cooling down and leaves are starting to change. Another milestone October brings is National Financial Planning Month. We know everyone has Financial Planning Month noted in red on their calendars with lots of events planned to celebrate. All kidding aside, Grimes Financial Services urges everyone to remember the true importance of raising awareness and focusing regularly on financial planning.

Many families have absolutely no plan as to whether they want or need to be financially even one year out, and certainly many do not have a financial roadmap for the next 20 – 30 years. Time is our most scarce and expensive asset and it is depleting by the second. Take the time this month to look over your finances and ask yourself “Am I where I want to be?”. For many, the honest answer is no.

Starting this month, make your financial health a priority with the following tips:

  1. Monthly budget– A monthly budget is be a powerful tool for any family. Household budgets let us know where the bulk of our money is going so we can evaluate spending choices future. Today’s technology often takes away the need to track expenses on our own. Look at credit card and bank statements, often available online or with a mobile app. Consider signing up for the free website, mint.com. Mint brings together your accounts, bills and more for a convenient view of day to day spending without inputting transaction data, excluding cash spending, which can also be entered quickly via Mint’s mobile app.
  2. Build up your saving– Before you know it tax time is going to be here, and Uncle Sam could be asking for some of your money. Do you have enough saved up if he comes knocking on your door? Consider cutting your tax bill by utilizing IRA’s or 401K plans.
  3. Lower your debt– Debt is a metaphorical ball and chain. Find ways to free up money and lower credit card, mortgage, car loan, etc. balances. Start with evaluating if funds are available to pull from your bank to pay for a purchase, and if not, do you really need it? The freedom of being debt free is like no other.
  4. Investment performance– Are your investments performing to support your goals, including to create retirement income needed beyond social security? Examine investments at least once a year so performance concerns can be addressed promptly. This strategy goes back to time being our greatest asset.
  5. Be happy: Are you doing the things you want to do and that bring meaning and happiness to your life? While this may sound like a personal question rather than a financial consideration, it is easier to know where you want to go in life in all respects when our direction is clear. Prioritize things in your life whether it be traveling more, spending more, or less, time (we can keep that between us) with family, or even starting a small business. While you may have to sacrifice some things early to pursue your goals, in the long run you will not look back with regret for opportunities missed.

We hope you’ll find this information to be useful and applicable to what’s going on in your life. If you have someone else you feel this will be helpful, please share. If you’re reading this and think “running my own personal finances maybe just isn’t for me”, then call us and let us help get you there…

Happy National Financial Planning Month!