Would you let more than a year go by without taking your child for an annual physical? Of course not. And although your financial future isn’t your child, its health and growth are in your care, too. When was the last time it had a checkup?
A lot has been changing on the economic front in the past 12 months. You see and hear the headlines every day: stocks, housing, automakers, retail, jobs, bank bailouts and all the rest. No one is untouched by the fallout. Perhaps it’s affecting your career and your income. Even if not, it’s a sure bet that they’re affecting your investments and your emergency cash-in-hand fund.
Like many people, you may have found yourself dipping into that fund recently. You’ve heard it before, but there’s no time like the present to restate it: You need six months’ worth of living expenses in cash savings (or close to six months as possible) as your emergency fund. It’s there to cover a sudden loss of income, or out-of pocket costs for unexpected house expenses (summer’s here, and you’re A/C unit isn’t getting any younger) or car repairs, or medical expenses, or . . . the list goes on. Start adding to your emergency fund now.
Once it’s en route to being replenished, you can move on to your longer-term savings goals and holdings, from CDs to your investment portfolio. If you haven’t already, meet with your Certified Financial Planner (CFP) for a checkup of your retirement account and your investments—stocks, bonds, mutual funds, etc. They may need to be re-balanced. Also consider your “time line” (how long before you retire), your reduced investment balances, and how current economic conditions my have affected your original goals. Your CFP can rework that long-term plan for you.
One more checkup: Insurance. Review your medical coverage, disability protection, long-term care plan, and life insurance. Because people are living longer, costs are coming down for many types of coverage—which means you may be paying too much if your costs are based on outdated actuarial tables. And don’t overlook savings on home and auto insurance. Shop around: rates are often competitive there, too. And if your home and auto are insured by the same company, they typically give a discount.
As with physical health, good financial health is critical, so take good care of it. Call your Certified Financial Planner for a checkup now: a little preventive “medicine” can help ensure a financially healthy future for you and your family.