You may have cut loose this summer with late nights, long trips away and spontaneous summer fun. As school starts and the social calendar calms (or gets worse with kids’ sports), you may be feeling motivated to get back into a routine. As you get organized, try out these five tips for improving your finances in September.
1. Make a plan for that thing you’ve been putting off
It’s easy to get caught up in the bustle of daily life. And when life gets busy, that career change, cross-country move or new hobby seems to get pushed further into the future.
While the past few years may have added more challenges to your plate, it may have also given you a greater focus on what’s really important in life. Now, it’s time to stop putting off that thing that you’ve been dreaming about and create a plan to make it happen.
Whether you’re diving in headfirst or starting with a baby step, a good financial plan can help empower you to take the next step. So if you don’t have one already, make a plan that keeps your long-term goals on course but also allows you to enjoy the things that matter most in life along the way.
2. Audit your insurance
Taking an annual look at your insurance coverage — health insurance, homeowners insurance, car insurance — can be a good exercise for your budget and your future. Life changes like a job change, changes to the family or a new mortgage may impact your overall coverage needs. Rate shopping could also help you clear some room in your monthly budget.
Your life insurance policy could also use an audit. While reviewing it annually is a good idea, you can also revisit your coverage as you experience life events to make sure you have enough coverage and consider future needs like planning for long-term care. There are many different types of life insurance, so there are lots of ways to build a life insurance plan for your family.
3. Stay the course on your long-term financial goals
The market’s decline may have you worried about your investments, but when making investment decisions, it’s best to keep a cool head. A volatile market can cause some unease in the short-term and make you feel like you should be “doing something.” But instead of panicking about a recession, separate fact from fiction and put your energy into staying focused on your long-term financial goals.
The truth is, a good financial plan will prepare you for good times and bad. Keeping your eye on the long game can help you see the value of staying invested and bring some peace of mind to stay the course as the market changes.
4. Sort out your debt
Summer was about living in the moment, and you may have found you overspent a little these past few months. That’s okay. As you’re getting back into the swing of things, you can get back on track by putting a repayment plan in place.
While getting out of debt may seem like a challenge, there are several different repayment strategies you can use. Find one that works best for you. As long as you develop a plan and start taking action, you’ll be in good shape to start chipping away at that debt.
But, don’t feel like you need to clear all your debt right away. Some debt is more harmful to your financial health than others, so make sure you understand the difference between good debt and bad debt. You’ll likely want a more aggressive plan for paying off the bad debt, but it’s okay to carry good debt for a longer period if you’re making regular payments.
5. Don’t give up on the housing market
Buying a home in a seller’s market can be frustrating, and you may feel discouraged by rising interest rates and low inventory. The start of school can sometimes slow the summer rush, so it may be worth taking another look at what pops up this fall.
Getting your ducks in a row while you look can help you avoid potential issues when buying a house and make sure you’re ready when you do find the one. Things like saving up for a down payment, getting pre-approved for a loan and educating yourself on what goes into buying a home can put you in a much better position to move quickly if you need to.