Quitting smoking or dropping a few pounds had to make room at the top of resolution lists this New Year. A recent survey from the National Endowment for Financial Education found that 64 percent of U.S. adults planned to make a financially-focused goal in 2015.
It makes sense. After all, taking care of your financial health is an important element of a balanced life.
Taking care of your financial health goes beyond budgeting and making timely payments. It involves diagnosing your current situation and determining what areas may need attention. It involves creating goals and developing a plan with specific steps to help you achieve your optimal financial health. It involves annual review. Like quitting smoking or losing weight, it involves commitment and focus. The results can be well worth your effort.
Take time to reflect and ask yourself the following questions. Depending upon your answers, you may want to discuss them with your financial advisor.
Is your net worth growing? It’s a simple calculation. Subtract what you owe (your liabilities) from what you own (your assets), and compare that number from year to year. Even if your assets are not growing, your net worth will grow if you are paying down debt. The numbers may fluctuate up and down from year to year, but overall the trend should be growth.
Are you spending more than you earn? Many people don’t know the answer to this question. Establishing monthly spending targets can help you track expenses so you’ll know where you stand. Be sure to review how you did at the end of the month, so you will understand where you need to make adjustments.
What has changed in your life in the past year? Big life events (i.e. marriage, a new job, having a child, retirement) can impact elements of your financial plan. You may need more or less insurance, to save more or less for retirement, or to update your estate plan.
Are you happy? Financial health isn’t simply about money. It’s about figuring out the best way to finance what you want out of life — security for your family, a new career, more leisure time or opportunity to do charitable work. Be honest with yourself and ask: what can I do to be happier and better off a year from now?