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Midyear financial checklist 2024




We’re halfway through 2024 which means it’s a great time to check in on all your financial goals and checklists for the year. It’s better to identify weak spots now and correct the course than be surprised come the end of the year!


Here's a breakdown of what you should be doing:

 

Tackle that Debt!

Interest rates are higher than ever, therefore, debt has become even more expensive. It's time to tackle your debt and stop avoiding it once and for all. The first step is to list every single debt you owe. Jot down the name of the company, the amount, the minimum owed each month, and the interest rate. Select the debt that is charging you the most in interest and start tackling it by sending extra money to it each month. Once that is paid off, you can move on to the next debt and you will continue doing this until you're debt free.

Use a debt payoff calculator to see how long this will take you and how much you will save in interest.

 

Calculate your Net Worth

Your net worth is your assets minus your debts. Your salary is not your net worth. Add up your cash, items of value and your investments and deduct them from your debt. You can include the value of your home as an asset and deduct the mortgage. Don't be discouraged if your net worth is negative. For many young adults, this could be the case due to outstanding student loans. Once you’ve calculated your number, set a plan to continue working in the right direction. Set a Net Worth Goal for the remainder of the year. Something attainable – write it down and keep it insight. That way you can measure your progress.

 

Make sure you’re using FSA Funds

A Flexible Spending Account (FSA) is usually offered by your employer. You can use your pre-tax money to pay for eligible medical expenses and it goes beyond just prescriptions or deductibles. The IRS provides a list of things that are covered under the FSA including over the counter medication.

An FSA is NOT an HSA (Health Savings Account). Unlike an HSA the unused funds don't roll over to the next year. That means you have to spend the money in your FSA by December 31st. Use it or lose it.

 

Start contributing to a 401k/IRA or consider increasing contribution amounts

An employer sponsored 401k plan is a great way to invest for your future retirement. Contributions are made with pre-tax dollars, reducing your taxable income for the year you contribute, and many companies offer a match up to a certain percentage.

An IRA is a long-term, tax-advantaged savings account that individuals with earned income can use to also save for the future. These are generally opened outside of an employees company.

If you’re under the age of 50, you can invest up to $7,000 a year into an IRA and $23,000 a year into a 401k. Those amounts get bumped up to $8,000 for an IRA and $30,500 for a 401k if you’re over 50.

So, stop procrastinating and start one this month or if you already have one, consider increasing contributions especially if you received a recent pay raise.

 

Rebalance Your Investments

The markets continue to make record highs this year. If you’re already years into investing, don’t forget to check how conservative or aggressive your portfolio is currently. It's important to take into consideration your age, your risk tolerance, and your investing goals.

If you're young with 20+ years to go before retirement, you may want to consider keeping your bond allocation low compared to your stock allocation. However, if you're 5 years from retirement, you shouldn’t invest like a 25 year old and go all in on stocks. You can’t risk a market crash in the near future which could delay your retirement date.

Either way, determine how much risk you’re comfortable with and make sure you’re allocated correctly.

 

Open an HYSA (a High Yield Savings Account)

There’s no need to have money stashed under your mattress. If you’re saving money for an emergency or something you plan on buying, such as a car, in the next 3-5 years, take 15 minutes to open a high yield savings account. Interest rates are at an all time high and this is an easy way to get 5% interest on your money risk free.

Keep in mind, no one becomes wealthy from a savings account, but that's not the point of a savings account. The point is to keep your money liquid for a short-term need.

 

Update Beneficiaries in Investment/Bank Accounts

Every financial account you have should have a designated beneficiary. That includes investments, checking and savings accounts. This is especially important with investment accounts because this designation will supersede whatever else you have in a will.

If you have done it already, great. If not, it takes five minutes to log into your accounts and update this information. Set a reminder to check up on it once a year in case it needs to be updated. 

 

Create/Update your Estate Plan

Only 33% of U.S. adults have any form of estate planning. Sixty percent report not making any effort to start. Estate planning can be an uncomfortable topic to think about and even harder to talk about, but it is something you shouldn't postpone for too long.

The basic documents you should have are:

A Living Will, which covers end of life medical care, life support, organ donation, etc.

A Health Care Power of Attorney or general Power of Attorney: This appoints someone to make health or financial decisions on your behalf if you become incapacitated.

A Last Will & Testament which outlines how your assets will be distributed upon your death.

Finally, Guardianship Designations: Some wills include this but if yours doesn't then make sure you add this document if you have dependents.

Be sure to keep these documents in a safe place and make sure your family knows where to find them.  If they’re stored electronically or on a website, be sure to provide links and passwords.

 

There you have it!

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