Why a mid-year review of your finances is essential

It is a good time of the year to check your income, expenses and savings goals, financial experts say

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A lot can happen in six months. That’s why, as we close out the first half of the year, it makes sense to check in on your financial life.

“With inflation, I think people this year are more heavily affected than they probably have been in many years leading up to this point,” says Jason Dall’Acqua, a certified financial planner (CFP) and founder of Crest Wealth Adviser.

“So it’s a good time to see how things have been going … as well as plan for what lies ahead in the remainder of the year.”

So where should you start? Add these three items to your mid-year money checklist.

1. Review your income, expenses and goals

You don’t have to tally up every cent you’ve made and spent over the past six months. But taking a few minutes to check a bank or budget app can help you better understand your finances and course-correct if necessary.

“Right now with inflation, even if you had a budget back in January, it probably is not the same as it is today. There are some things that are going to need to be changed. So it’s just really resetting and figuring out where you stand today versus where you thought you were going to stand today,” says Kayla Welte, a CFP with District Capital Management.

Look for opportunities to scale back if you’ve spent more than anticipated. For example, you can dine out less or cancel subscription services you rarely use.

“Any excess spending that you’ve been doing, you may have to cut down to account for this higher cost of things that you absolutely have to buy,” Ms Welte says.

If you set money resolutions or other financial goals earlier this year, check on those, too. Have you saved as much towards retirement or an emergency fund as you planned? Are you on track to pay off debt?

2. Deal with debt

Debt is becoming more expensive to carry due to rising interest rates. Pay down debts sooner, particularly those with variable interest rates, to save money. These debts might include credit cards, personal loans or adjustable-rate mortgages.

Concentrate on reducing your debt with the highest rates first, then move on to the next highest.

Mr Dall’Acqua also suggests switching from variable-rate to fixed-rate options by refinancing, if possible. “If you can lock in the fixed rate now, you’re likely to be saving yourself significantly in interest costs over time,” he says.

3. Plan Christmas shopping

Inflation could make Christmas gifts a little pricier this year. Create a shopping list and think about how much you can afford to spend. “Figure out what that would require for you to start saving on a weekly or monthly basis and start putting that money aside right now,” Mr Dall’Acqua says.

Starting shopping early can also help you manage the cost without accruing debt. Many retailers host major sale events in the summer, including Amazon’s Prime Day, which begins in July.

Don’t worry about getting everything perfect right now.

As Joe Bautista, a CFP from Oregon, says: “Financial planning is dynamic, it’s not static.”

Check in on your money plans periodically and update them as needed.


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