Published by Debra Taylor
The temperatures have been hot, hot, hot lately, which hopefully means you’ve either been spending a lot of time in or near a body of water, or you’ve been spending plenty of time enjoying some air-conditioning indoors. Whether you find yourself doing the former or the latter, now is a great opportunity to do a mid-summer “review” of your finances and your life. You may even find that you have some new priorities, which means you can set some new goals to guide you through the rest of the year.
I recently did my own mid-summer review and know some friends who have done the same. And I’ve realized that there are many ways to think about your life and your finances. Here are seven suggestions that can help you reorganize, reprioritize, and refresh.
1. Clean Out the Closets and the Garage! It may feel like an oven outside these days, but Fall is just around the corner, which means it’s almost time to switch your wardrobe and dig for the warmer stuff. It also means that stores are already putting out their Fall fashions. So why not do a little closet cleanout. In the process, you may find clothes that you’ve hardly ever worn, or that may even still have the tags on them. You can sell these items online and make some money for your fall shopping. Because of our recent house move, we cleaned out our closets and our garage, and discovered many useful websites, such as www.eBay.com, www.Poshmark.com, www.Tradesy.com, andwww.VarageSale.com, not to mention the many Facebook groups that exist where you can sell stuff in your local area. It is amazing how active these sites are, with very willing buyers!
2. Leave Budgeting to Online Tools. Gone are the days of writing down your budget on paper, or even inputting numbers into an Excel spreadsheet. These days, there are a plethora of budgeting tools and apps online that can do it for you. Taylor Financial Group actually offers a budgeting and planning tool for our clients via WealthMatch™. Not only does WealthMatch™ allow you to keep all of your accounts, expenses, and other finances in one place, it connects them all in one place to give you a complete picture of your financial health. More than that, we can use WealthMatch™ to create scenarios to illustrate how financial decisions and spending habits today could impact your plans for the future. If you want to know more about WealthMatch™, just give us a call and we would be happy to walk you through it.
3. Take Advantage of Credit Card Perks and Offers. Don’t forget about all those points you’ve been racking up on your credit cards. You can use points for discounts on airfare, hotels, car rentals, and even regular retail purchases. Also, look out for offers from your credit card companies by email and/or regular mail. A lot of times, we tend to ignore emails that seem “spamish” or look like advertisements. But credit card companies do send out offers from time to time that are worth paying attention to. For example, I recently received an email from American Express with the subject line “Tailored for You – Special Offers.” The subject is not so appealing because it looks like so many others from spammers. But upon opening that email, I realized they were offering me several discounts, including a hotel room upgrade, Starbucks gift cards, and a 5% discount on car rentals. Each of these offers was something I would actually benefit from and I might have missed out if I didn’t take the time to open the email.
4. Cash in on Family Time. Summer is often spent with family. Take the opportunity to educate your children and grandchildren about finances. Family time is a great time to share lessons about personal finance, and to explain the importance of budgeting and saving. Giving real-life examples will help your kids understand finances at a young age and help them avoid making financial mistakes as young adults. For example, I insist my daughter Caroline use coupons when visiting Bed Bath & Beyond to buy her dorm room supplies.
5. Give Back! I have always been a strong believer in giving back. I am blessed with so much – why not bless others? In the same way that it is important for us to have an understanding of saving, spending, and investing, it’s just as important to grasp the idea of giving. And it doesn’t have to be just the giving of money. We should give in non-financial ways too, such as donating our time to assist the elderly or tutor a child. I emphasize this at home and at the office. In fact, my kids and I have volunteered at Oasis: A Haven for Women and Children in Paterson, and our office team volunteers once a month at Christian Health Care Centers in Wyckoff. A little effort on our part can make a big difference in the lives of others.
6. Consider Your Lifestyle. I recently wrote about my own move from a “big home” to a “big life.” And I have to tell you, it has been such a rewarding experience and a great decision. The truth is, homes can often turn into our biggest expense – and our biggest headache! It’s not a bad idea to consider whether your home continues to make sense for you and your family. At a minimum, calculate how much you could save each month by downsizing. It may be a shocking realization, and one that could change your life and your finances, if not now, then perhaps in the future.
7. Look for Summer Markdowns. As the summer comes to an end, stores are marking down their prices to get rid of summer merchandise and make room for fall and winter inventory. You can find patio furniture, barbecue grills, and other summer gear on big sales. Maybe you are considering buying new supplies for next summer – don’t wait until then. You’re better off making the purchase now and storing it for next season, if necessary. The amount of space the items will take up in your garage until next summer will be worth every dollar you save! We waited until now to buy a new grill for our new home, and we saved a ton!
No matter how you choose to spend the rest of your summer, don’t miss the opportunity to reflect on the first half of the year and to set goals for the remainder of the year. If you need help with your mid-year review, let us know. We are always ready to assist you.