How to Do a Quarterly Money Checkup

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It’s a good idea to dig into your finances every three months. Here’s how.

Key points

  • It’s smart to review your finances in depth once a quarter.
  • Take a close look at things like your spending, your debt, and big future purchases.

My husband and I are firm believers in following a budget and keeping track of our finances. But every so often, we like to do a deeper dive. That’s why we make a point to carve out some time for a quarterly money checkup. If you’re inclined to do the same (which is generally a good idea), here are some key items worth checking off your list.

1. Review your spending

You may be spending more money on groceries these days due to higher costs or the fact that your kids are growing. Or maybe you’re spending more money on after-school activities as your kids’ interests expand. Either way, it’s a good idea to see how much you’re spending in each category in your budget. If you see that your expenses have largely increased across the board, you may need or want to look at cutting back in less important areas to ensure you’re staying on track with your savings goals.

2. Review changes to your income

Maybe you recently got a raise and are now enjoying a larger paycheck. Or maybe your hours at work got cut and your income has taken a hit. Either way, take note of changes to your income to ensure your expenses are still manageable. And if your income has gone down for the time being, you may want to consider getting a second job temporarily to keep up with your bills.

3. Review larger upcoming expenses

You may have some larger-than-usual bills on the horizon, and paying for them without stress could require a little strategy. Take a look at your calendar and see if there are events coming up, like a wedding or vacation, that might force you to pull from your savings. Similarly, it may be the case that your quarterly property tax payment is about to come due. That’s something to put on your radar so you’re not left scrambling to pay for it.

4. Assess your debt

If you’re carrying debt, you’ll want to make sure you’re making decent progress paying it off. Take a look at your loans and credit card balances. You may decide to consolidate some of your debt to make it easier or more affordable to manage. Doing a balance transfer, for example, could be a good way to save money on interest while paying off your credit cards.

5. Check up on your savings

You may have a specific savings goal in mind, or you may simply have the goal of seeing your savings account balance increase from month to month. Either way, it’s a good idea to see how well you’re doing in that regard. If you’re not pleased with your progress, you can go back to your budget and see about making spending changes that allow you to free up more cash to put into the bank.

Doing a money checkup every three months could help your financial picture improve. So open your calendar and block off some time to get one done. You’ll be thankful you did.

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