How is your financial year going?
Are you on target with your goals? Halfway through the year is a good time to assess where you are, and where you’re going. Here are some suggestions:
• Have you started putting money away for the holidays? No, it’s not too early to start. Saving money each month now can keep you from running up expenses in December and paying into next spring if you need to use credit cards.
• How is your rate of saving? Have you been able to keep up with your goal? Renew efforts to put money into savings and consider whether you can increase that amount, no matter how small.
• Where is your savings? Ideally, it’s in a place that’s not easy to access, such as your checking account or an online account. Review interest rates online and compare to what you’re getting. Look at rates for regular savings versus money-market accounts and certificates of deposit. Interest will vary by the amount deposited and the length of time. (Beware not to lock up your emergency stash in a longterm CD. You’ll pay early-withdrawal penalties to take out your money. Opt for a short-term CD with an automatic rollover.)
• Are you close to paying off one or more credit cards? Whether you choose to pay off the smallest balance first or the one with the highest interest rate, getting a card paid off completely will free up more funds to pay on other credit cards.
• If you made a vow to make use of grocery coupons, have you kept it up? At the bottom of each receipt you’ll find the amount you’ve saved by using coupons. Consider that extra money to pay off credit cards or put into savings.
• Have you made use of a computer software budgeting program? After inputting all your data, you can sort your types of expenses with the click of a few buttons.
• Check your 2013 tax return. Did you pay or did you get a refund? If you paid or got back thousands of dollars, you could need an adjustment to your deductions and exemptions.
Some of the situations that might require a change are a birth or a child who moves out, working multiple jobs or a working spouse. The Internal Revenue Service has an online withholding calculator to help you come up with the right numbers. If there are changes, turn in a new W-4 form to your employer.
By David Uffington