Ah, summer! The approach of warmer days and the end of the school season mean a change of schedule for most of us. Whether your summer activities include traveling afar or staying at home; watching movies or watching kids; spending more time outside – or more time inside, for those of us in the south! – summer is a great time to take a breath and catch up with yourself.
Here are some smart moves to add to your summer to-do list, which may help you feel more relaxed going into the second half of the year.
- Start saving now for the holidays – I know, I know, it’s hard to think about winter celebrations when it’s hot outside – but truly, putting away a little every month helps to prevent overspending or guilt from ruining “the most wonderful” time of year. You can create a separate savings account at your current bank and set up an automatic monthly contribution. Boom! You’re on your way to a smarter holiday season – even before “Christmas in July.”
- Evaluate your memberships/subscriptions – did you get all excited about that gym membership deal in January and sign up? Are you still using it? This is not time to get all judgey about yourself – instead, try to look at it practically. Are you getting value out of what you are paying for? This is true for anything you have on “autopay” – from streaming services to meal delivery. We love the concept of putting payments on automatic, but it’s smart to evaluate them every once in awhile and cancel anything you don’t use anymore.
- Double check your tax withholding – you’ve probably heard that the new tax law takes effect in 2018 – and you’ve probably already felt it in your paycheck. Now’s a good time to take a look at your withholdings and see if adjustments need to be made. Not sure? Check out the withholding calculator and related tips from the IRS here.
- Look at your retirement contributions – while you’ve got that paystub in hand, check out the amount going into your retirement contributions. Are you getting the maximum tax advantage that you can? The IRS increased the limits slightly for 2018. Please click here for further information. Also, many people don’t realize they may be allowed to contribute to more than only their employer-sponsored plan. A Roth IRA or a spousal IRA might provide additional savings.
- Consider your credit cards – Did you know that credit cards, when used carefully, can help you reach your financial goals? The key is using the right card for you (and paying it off each month!). For example, I recently talked to a friend who is flying for FREE to Thailand for a vacation she’s always wanted to take. She found an airline rewards card that she liked and used it for all of her household expenses. Over time, she racked up enough miles to make this dream trip. What type of credit cards do you have? What types might help you achieve your goals? If you use CreditKarma to track your credit score, it also provides you with information about rewards cards that may match your spending habits.
- Expand your knowledge – “Knowledge is power,” they say. Summer is a great time to boost your knowledge on a subject you’ve always been curious about. It seems you can find just about any book with an online search these days. Whether you take a paperback or a Kindle to the pool, it will probably be time well spent. You can also consider classes (in person or online); or joining a club for an activity or hobby that you enjoy. It’s amazing how hanging out with people who share your interests can make you feel happier, more energetic, and smarter, too!
What’s your “top financial tip” for this summer? I’d love to hear it! Please send me an email and let me know.I hope you and your family have a happy and safe summer.
Shadowridge Asset Management, LLC does not offer tax planning or legal services, but may provide references to accounting, tax services or legal providers. They may also work with your attorney or independent tax or legal advisor.