We’re a third of the way through 2020, and while this month is shaping up to be very different than we ever could have guessed at the beginning of the year, April still has a lot on the calendar: Financial Literacy Month, Teach Your Children to Save Day and – fittingly – Stress Awareness Month. Here are five ways to improve your finances in April.
1. REVISIT YOUR BUDGET
One benefit of staying home is that you’re more likely to save money. And while some of your regular expenses are non-negotiable, such as food and utilities, see if you can trim elsewhere on expenses that you won’t be able to take advantage of for the time being, such as gym memberships and transportation costs.
2. CONTINUE TO PLAN FOR RETIREMENT
Even though the markets feel unsteady these days, it’s so important to keep contributing to your retirement accounts – especially if you’re years away from retiring. While it can be hard to see your account balances drop, market drops like this are a normal part of investing – throughout history, they've always re-gained losses and returned to growth. When you invest when the market is lower, you’ll have even more opportunity for your money to grow. And if you’re approaching retirement or are already there, remember that good planning gives you options to generate income without taking money from your investments.
3. FILE YOUR TAXES (IF YOU HAVEN’T DONE SO ALREADY)
You may have heard that the deadline to file taxes has been extended to July 15. If you expect to owe taxes, you may want to hang onto that cash and wait. But if you’re getting a refund, you might as well get this yearly task done now and get your money back. However, you might have to make some adjustments from how you usually file. If you’re not filing electronically on your own, you may want to (or have to) virtually enlist the help of a pro to avoid bringing your paperwork in person.
4. DO A FINANCIAL CHECK-UP
You’re not alone if you’re feeling a bit uncertain regarding your finances during this unprecedented time. But being proactive is one of the best things you can do while you work to keep your stress at bay.
You’ve already re-examined your day-to-day budget, so take it one step further by revisiting the big-picture aspects of your finances – the ones you probably don’t think about on a regular basis but are just as important. That might mean checking your your credit score, calculating your net worth or educating yourself about how the federal stimulus bill will affect your financial plans. The more you know, the more confident you can feel about your situation.
5. SHARE YOUR MONEY KNOW-HOW
Once you’ve gotten up to speed with your own finances, pass on some learnings to your kids – whether they’re on the younger side, approaching their teen years or in high school. They’re already in school mode at home, and while those assigned lessons are important, it’s never too early to start instilling good money habits. With the extra time you’re all spending at home, now’s as good a time as any to start.