Financial fitness can look different to each person, but the foundation of a financially fit life is pretty much the same. Although there are many aspects that can be measured when determining financial fitness, some outweigh others. Additionally, some may be more relevant to you depending on where you are on your financial journey.
Use the following financial wellness questions to better define your financial goals and help you take the next step towards a financially fit life.
Do I Have an Effective and Realistic Budget?
A good place to start on your journey to financial fitness is to create a realistic budget. An effective budget can help you determine how much money you have coming in each month and how much you’re paying out toward bills and other expenses. It will also help you to see where you can cut back on spending.
The trick here is to make sure that your budget is not only realistic but that it is an effective tool that will help you get to your goals. Start by pulling your bank and credit card statements to get a holistic view of your monthly expenses and income. As you’re going through your spending, think about your long and short-term financial goals and how your current spending relates to those goals. Are your spending and savings patterns in line with your financial goals? If not, it could be time to make some changes.
Creating a realistic budget can be difficult at first, but understand that it is not set in stone, and can be updated as needed. In fact, we would recommend revising your budget on a consistent basis to ensure that it is still working for you and getting you closer to your goal of being financially fit.
How Much Money Should I Have In My Emergency Savings Account?
Your financial health is not unlike your general health. Unexpected occurrences should be taken into account. The world is an unpredictable place, so take steps to protect yourself should an emergency occur. Your emergency savings account should be easy to access and should contain roughly three to six months of your general expenses.
Work up to this amount by including an automatic emergency fund deposit in your monthly budget. This way you won’t have to worry about manually putting money in each month.
If you don’t have an emergency fund, you could find yourself facing a really tough financial situation that could derail your finances. An easy way to start your emergency savings account is to simply contact your local credit union.
How Is My Credit Score?
Each year, you’re entitled to a copy of your credit report at no cost from each of the three major credit reporting companies. These are; Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. It’s an important part of your financial habits to not only periodically check your reports for errors but also to check on your credit score.
Keep your credit score high by paying your creditors on time and staying below 30% of credit usage at all times. A good rule of thumb is to think of your credit cards not as free money but as a way to get rewards for your spending. Try to avoid overspending and carrying a balance month over month, this could negatively impact your credit score and cost you a lot in interest.
Do I Have a Long-Term Financial Plan in Place?
Saving enough for a comfortable retirement is probably one of your long-term goals. But if you have kids, you may put that goal on the back burner to save for college expenses.
Remember, funding your retirement is up to you. Your child can use student loans or work part-time to help pay for college. Participating in your retirement plan helps you put saving for retirement first. Any “extra” money you have left can go toward college savings.
Having a long-term financial plan in place will help you to stay on track each month with spending and saving. Just having some kind of plan is essential to your financial future.
How Often Should I Review and Re-Evaluate My Financial Plan?
Establishing a financial plan is only the first step toward achieving financial wellness. Make sure you review your plan on a regular basis to ensure you’re on track to reaching your goals. A financial plan must be based on your current income and expenses. A yearly review is recommended to evaluate your changes and progress made towards your goals.
Is it Too Early to Contribute to My Retirement?
The simple answer: no. Investing early is the best way to grow your retirement fund. Investing a smaller dollar amount over a longer time horizon could have a greater impact on the eventual investment result than investing a larger amount over a shorter period of time.
Consider the values that could be achieved at age 65 by a 25-year-old who invested $75 a month and a 35-year-old who invested $100 a month, both earning the same rates of return. By starting to save earlier, the 25-year-old could have been able to accumulate more savings at age 65 despite investing less each period. The reality is, that the earlier you invest, the better. But, it is never too late to start!
Discover how to improve your financial wellness and live a financially fit life by contacting our financial support team!
Sources: ChartSource®, DST Systems, Inc. This example is hypothetical and does not represent the performance of a particular investment. Your results will vary. Actual investing includes fees and other expenses that may result in lower returns than this hypothetical example. Copyright © 2018, DST Systems, Inc. Reproduction in whole or in part prohibited, except by permission. All rights reserved. Not responsible for any errors or omissions. (CS000083)
Investing involves risks including possible loss of principal. No investment strategy or risk management technique can guarantee return or eliminate risk in all market environments.