The weather is getting cooler, the colors are changing, and the scent of pumpkin spice fills the air signaling the beginning of fall and holiday season. But October isn’t just known for pumpkin carving and corn mazes, October is also the month for financial planning. It’s a great time to review the fiscal year thus far and begin planning for holiday spending and traveling. Before you break out the long sleeves and pumpkin spice lattes, here are five things to add to your October to-do list:
- Make a holiday budget: With holiday season comes an increase in spending. Before you shop, create a spreadsheet of your average monthly expenses so you can plan accordingly. Applications such as Mint by TurboTax, will help you track spending and develop a budget.
- Review Your Credit Report: Every 12 months, you can receive a free credit report from each credit bureau. After the Equifax breach last year, it is crucial that you keeping track of your credit accounts for fraudulent activities and incorrect reporting. In your report, look for credit lines opened without your knowledge and accounts that are closed but are still being reported as open. You can grab your credit report now on https://www.annualcreditreport.com.
- Fill Out The FASFA: The school semester is coming to an end, and with it, your child might be exploring college options for next year. On October 1st, the Federal Application for Student Aid will become available and once filled out, will determine your eligibility for financial aid. Because federal aid can be handed out on a first-come, first serve basis, you should submit this as soon as possible. Within a week, expect the Student Aid Report to arrive and show if you qualify for federal need-based aid such as work-study programs and Pell grants. After, you should head to the school’s website and use their net-price calculator to estimate how much school will cost after factoring financial aid.
- Do A Retirement Plan Check-Up: Whether retirement is around the corner or down the road, you should be making periodic updates and adjustments to your retirement portfolio. When reviewing, check investments and make sure they still reflect your risk tolerance and estimated retirement time. You should also consider how much you are investing and if you should increase or decrease based on your financial situation.
- Set Goals For Next Year And Beyond: October is a great time to start planning out next year’s financial goals so you can be set for success in the long-term. Look at your day-to-day finances and locate where you can improve and where you can save more. After, consider which goals are most important for your long-term success. Just as time changes, so should your financial plan. Things like marriage, children, and career can impact your financial goals, so make sure you are reviewing your plan at least once a year.
By implementing some or all the tips above into your October to-do list, you can carve your pumpkin in comfort knowing your financial future is good to go. If you go through these steps and do not like where you are financially wise, schedule a meeting with your financial professional to see how they can help you get your finances back on track.
*Content derived from consumerreports.org and cobizmag.com