Each year around this time, we switch gears to summer mode. For the past six months the talk has been of all things winter. Football, snow, cold, heating costs, new coats, and winter home maintenance are only a few of those conversation topics but now it’s time to forget about all of those and think ahead to the summer. Water, new swimsuits, cookouts, baseball, and cleaning out the gutters take center stage while all things winter are put away and not talked about until November.
That might work watersports but for your finances, not so much. Have you noticed that some financial topics have seasons too? We talk about budgets at Christmas, home improvements in the warmer months, and sadly, retirement doesn’t get the attention its due until later in life. We have put together a few financial topics that shouldn’t be seasonal. In fact, take a look at your financial picture today and see how you’re measuring up.
One out of every two Americans admit to not having a budget. Every successful company works off of a budget, households that we would regard as successful work off of a budget. Even the government (when it’s running well) has a budget. If you don’t want to get detailed, here’s a simple plan: No more than 50% of your available funds should go to utilities, at least 20% to saving, emergency fund, and retirement, and 30% to lifestyle spending like entertainment and discretionary spending.
Download a free budget spreadsheet here.
Most people aren’t saving enough for retirement. Even if you have a 401(k) you are probably not contributing enough. Retirement experts advise saving 12 to 15 percent each month for retirement but not all of that has to go in to your 401(k). Consider opening an IRA or traditional brokerage account. It’s more important that you get in to the habit of
saving. Responsible investing will take care of the rest.
Putting off Maintenance
There are some expenses that don’t make us happy. We don’t want to spend money on maintenance of our car or home because we don’t see the rewards but don’t put off defensive spending. Preventing problems by spending money on routine maintenance is much cheaper than addressing problems that come from failing to take care of your more
Taking Care of Yourself
The single best asset you have is yourself. Of course, a healthy and happy life transcends money but your ability to earn money is what allows you to not only address your short- term financial needs but also build wealth over time. We tend to do a better job of taking care of ourselves in the summer months but it has to be a year round endeavor. Exercise, eat right, and have the appropriate medical tests for your age. If you don’t do it for yourself, do it for your family.
What other financial topics are seasonal in your life? NFL season tickets may be a season topic of conversation but budgets, management of debt, and many others should be conversations that take place all twelve months.