Inflation and COVID have prompted many of us to protect our health, jobs and financial well-being. No matter what your circumstances are, life will always have bumps in the road. Here are some tips to get back to basics and improve your financial picture.
Evaluate Your Budget
If you haven't looked at your budget in a while, it may be time to review and adjust. Figure out where your money goes, and places you can save.
Looking for a budgeting strategy? There are many ways to build one. For instance, this online budget worksheet from NerdWallet uses the 50/30/20 budgeting method, suggesting that 50% of your income goes toward your needs, 30% toward your wants and 20% toward savings and debt repayment.
Revisit Your Spending and Save any Extra Funds
See if there are ways to reduce your phone and cable bills by eliminating services you don't use. You can take similar actions with essential spending, such as insurance and utilities. Visit your utility company's website for suggestions on how to reduce your energy. Freeing up spending and putting it toward an emergency fund will keep you in good stead.
Refinance Your Loans
If you have a steady source of income and a good credit score,you could consider a loan refinance — including your mortgage and auto loans.
Consider a Balance Transfer
Consider getting rid of your high-rate cards by utilizing balance transfers to a card with a lower interest rate. What to look for when considering a balance transfer offer:
Pay attention to these two things when transferring your balance:
- Promotional Period — If you get a 0% annual percentage rate (APR) offer or a low introductory rate, you need to know exactly how long that promotional rate will last. Some terms are as short as six months; others can be as long as 18 months. Once the promotional period is over, your interest rate may be higher than what you are currently paying.
- Fees — Before you say yes to a balance transfer offer, even one with a 0% APR, check for fees. Balance transfer fees usually run between 2% and 5% of the amount transferred. There may also be annual fees, inactivity fees, cash advance fees and more associated with your new card.
Get an Insurance Review
Wonder if you have the right coverage? A licensed agent can help you explore your options, identify any gaps and find discounts you might not have thought of. For instance, it's important to make sure you have adequate liability and uninsured/underinsured coverage in case you have an accident involving an uninsured or underinsured driver.
Natural disasters are also something to be prepared for if you live in an area prone to wildfires, hurricanes or floods. While you can't prevent these occurrences, you can help reduce your fears and the potential damage by preparing for them. Your agent will help you explore your options.
Don't let Emotions Rule your Investments
Watching the stock market's volatility can make you nervous about your assets, especially if you're nearing retirement age. A financial advisor can examine your situation and make asset allocation recommendations to weather the storms.