You’ve got a basic financial plan and you’re chugging away each month at budgeting, saving, and earning more money. Congratulations! You’re well on your way to reaching your financial goals. But, what now?
This is a great time to start a quarterly financial review, just like the CEOs and CFOs at big businesses. Unlike what you may think, you don’t need to be the head of a multi-million dollar company to benefit from quarterly financial reviews.
To get the low-down on how to get going with your own financial review and reach your money goals, I chatted with Arielle Minicozzi, a CFP with Sphynx Financial Planning. Minicozzi conducts quarterly financial reviews with her clients and here’s what she has to say.
Update Your Goals to Account for Life Changes
You may be going through big changes in your life right now. Maybe you’re moving across the country for a job, getting married, buying a house, or starting a family. Surprise: these big life changes often come with an equally big price tag.
Each quarter, Minicozzi recommends thinking hard about any life changes coming up. Is there anything different that might cost you more money in the future? If so, now’s a great time to add it to your financial plan and start saving for it. This will not only prevent a world of headaches down the road, and it will help keep you out of debt.
Check Your Budgeting System
“If you’re not using an app or website to automatically track your money, make sure to record all your spending and savings,” says Minicozzi. “Go through the receipts you’ve accumulated over the quarter and tally them.”
Now is also a good time to review the line items in your budget. Unlike the terrifying numbers in your college calculus textbook, the numbers in your budget are meant to be changed and adjusted over time to fit you.
Take a peek and see: have you been setting aside too much money in any categories or are there any areas where you constantly run out of cash each month? If so, consider changing how much you have allocated to each line item in your budget.
Check Your Progress Towards Savings Goals
You check the time on your phone when you’re traveling between places to make sure you arrive on schedule, so why not do the same thing with your money?
Minicozzi recommends sitting down once each quarter and taking a look at your progress towards your savings goals.
“Did you meet or exceed your goal or did you fall short? If you fell short, think about what went wrong. Was the goal set too high? You may need to work your way up little by little,” she says.
Checking your progress allows you to make adjustments so that you have the money available when you need it. After all, you don’t want to wait until you’re 105 to buy a house or work as a Walmart greeter instead of traveling the world in your retirement.
Set Aside Tax Documents
The tax situation in the U.S. is being shaken up currently, but one thing won’t change: you will still need certain documents to file your taxes. Sorry. You can’t get out of this one.
So, take some time to gather up the documents you may need to file your taxes at the end of the year. Doing this now will save you a ton of hassle down the road.
What documents should you save?
“Things to watch out for are medical, dental and vision expenditures, charitable contributions, payments for tuition and books, and miles traveled for volunteering, medical appointments and business,” says Minicozzi.
Once you have them all rounded up, set the documents and records aside in a folder until the end of the year when you’re ready to do your taxes.
Get Into the Groove
You may think quarterly financial reviews at corporations are done in dusty old rooms surrounded by angry-looking men in suits. But, this is your financial review You can erase that picture and do things your way.
For instance, you can do your quarterly financial review in your favorite microbrewery with a friend. You can even help each other out while having a few laughs. Or, plan a celebration for yourself when you reach a certain milestone with your savings goals. In other words, you can do you.
You may be surprised but doing a quarterly financial review—and having fun while doing it—is one of the best ways to keep yourself on track to reach your money goals.