Fall Financial Checkup

October Is National Financial Planning Month, and it is the beginning of the fourth quarter. Either at the end of the fourth quarter last year, or the first quarter of this year most people thought about where they were financially and where they wanted to be. In fact, if you are like many people you reviewed and revised your budget for the year. Since the fourth quarter is here it is time to look at your performance and make any adjustments to help you reach your goals.

Are you under budget for the year? Good job! Was it accidental, or on purpose? One caveat to that is did you budget and spend so little that you deprived yourself of regular enjoyment, or deferred maintenance on things such as your home? If you do not have the money to spend, or you anticipate a serious downward revision of your income then your actions are prudent for the time being. However if you are depriving yourself, or your family for unrealistic goals then you should probably re-evaluate your budget and spending patterns. Measured use of funds on necessities, savings, giving and simple luxuries should be an important driver in your life. You should seriously consider revising your budget upward and spend more on fun things if you fall into this category.

On the other hand if you have spent more than your budget for multiple months your question should be why. Did you underestimate expenses, overestimate income, or was there another cause? Although occasionally going over budget by a moderate amount may not wreck your financial picture, regularly spending more than you should will at least hurt you in the future and probably will limit your choices in new housing and vehicles. To get back on track you should really evaluate your expenses. Are you wasting a lot of money on frivolous things, or are your fixed expenses so much that you are struggling? Is there a way to reduce expenditures? If it is feasible you should. Alternately you should consider ways to increase your income to help cover shortfalls and grow your wealth. One way may be to sell unused items and use the proceeds to pay off debt.

Discussing wealth, are you preparing for the future? You may be comfortable now, but your needs may be greater and your income lower as you reach typical retirement age. Is your family protected in case you were to pass away? These are things to really consider when you are evaluating your financial health. Consulting with a trusted advisor is something to consider to help you live the best life you can.