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What to Review Now That Quarter 1 is OverSubmitted by Paul B. Miller, CFP on April 12th, 2018
How often do you take the time to review your finances and investment portfolios? Did you know that there are recommended timelines for this activity that can help you stay on track financially? MarketWatch suggests individuals and businesses take time after each quarter to conduct a review of their financial situation. Whether you are looking at your spending habits or reviewing portfolios in the interest of rebalancing, the end of the first quarter of 2018 is a great opportunity to look back on the three months that were, and plan for the remaining three quarters of 2018.
Update Personal Balance Sheets
The first step in any quarterly review is to look at, and update if need be, your personal balance sheets. This is an ideal time to wrap your head around your checking and savings accounts to determine the flow into and out of those accounts with each paycheck. Look at the progress your investments in brokerage and retirement accounts are making; perhaps it is time to rebalance those accounts.
Additionally, you can look at the equity you have in your home and compare your progress on short-term debts, such as credit cards, auto loans, etc. and on your long-term debts, like your mortgage. This is a great way of determining the baseline health of your finances and should not take more than 15 to 20 minutes. Don't have a personal balance sheet? The Simple Dollar can walk you through making one quickly.
Review Progress on Mission Statement
What type of financial goals have you explicitly stated or even written down for yourself? Are you making progress toward achieving any of those goals? Your goals can be as simple as reaching a certain dollar mark in your savings account or setting aside a percentage of your paycheck for retirement each month, or more complex like saving for college for a child or trying to pay off your mortgage early. Setting goals is important, but so is a regular evaluation of your progress. Take time to look back at your stated goals and determine where you are in meeting those statements.
Dig Deeper on Costs
Do you know where your money is going? Maybe you are wasting too much money on cable TV or dining out too much. You will not actually know how much you are spending, and where you are spending, until you take time to dig into your costs. Once you dig deeper into your costs, you can identify opportunities to cut expenses and divert those funds to paying off debts or saving more for retirement.
Focus on the Next Quarter
You have reviewed the quarter that was, and now it is time to look into your crystal ball at the quarter ahead. OK, you do not have to predict what is going to happen next. However, it is a good idea to use your assessment of Q1 2018 to prepare for Q2. Do you have opportunities to cut costs and save more? Is it feasible that you could pay off some outstanding debt easily within the next quarter? Develop a short-term plan to tackle financial goals within the next quarter.
Set a Time Now to Review the Q2 2018
Set aside time now in your personal calendar, and maybe even set an appointment with your financial advisor at Indian River Financials, to review the second quarter. It is still three months away, but getting into the habit of quarterly reviews will keep you on target with financial goals and on track with investing for a better future.