Give Yourself a Financial Checkup

You know how it’s good to have an annual checkup from the doctor? Well, it’s good to give yourself a financial checkup too. If you go through the list and find some areas where you could use some work, don’t stress out. Just pick one and get started — because every little bit helps. Here’s what to check.

General financial health

Start by checking your general financial health. Are you:

  • Paying all of your bills early or on time?
  • Saving a portion of each paycheck?
  • Making steady progress with reducing debt, or better yet, not in debt?
  • Aware of where your money is going each month?
  • Actively planning for upcoming expenses?
  • Able to handle an emergency of $2000 or more?
  • Covered by health insurance, even if you’re young & healthy?

If so, your general financial health is pretty good. If not, you’ve got some work to do. Concentrate on getting the above items taken care of, and on building a larger emergency fund that will be there if you lose your job or otherwise need it.

In either case, there’s more to managing your money than just staying afloat and being ready for emergencies.

How prepared are you for the future?

You’ve got to prepare for more than just immediate worries. Time flies, which means the distant future will be here before you know it. So…

  • Do you have retirement accounts (such as an IRA or a 401k) set up for both you and your spouse if you are married?
  • Are you funding those accounts on a regular basis?
  • If you’re saving adequately for retirement & have kids, have you started saving for their college? (And/or prepping them to choose a college they can actually afford, and to get scholarships?)
  • Have you looked into when you should get long term care insurance, or gotten it?

How are you doing on the details?

Finally, you’ve got to dot all your i’s and cross all your t’s in the areas people are often tempted to put off. Here are some additional things to check. Do you have:

  • Disability insurance?
  • Life insurance, if someone is depending on your income for support?
  • A will?
  • Any other insurance you may need?
  • A household inventory, in case of disaster or theft?

Remember, it takes time to get into good financial shape, but the more you work at it the easier it becomes as things start to fall into place.

How did you do on the checkup? Can you think of anything I’ve left out?