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5 simple financial to-dos to accomplish on a summer Friday

These simple and fast financial moves can save you time, money, and stress. Here, a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional suggests steps to get your finances in shape.

Simple ways to get your finances in shape

You may not have been in school for decades, but whether or not you have kids, the long days, laid back attitudes, and fun weekend plans of summer can make it easy to loosen your grip on to-do lists while you enjoy the moments as they come. And while you deserve the break, these simple financial to-do’s can be done on a summer Friday — poolside, even — and can help keep you in good financial shape, both for this fall and the far-off future.

We’ve compiled a list of easy to accomplish money tasks that you can check off your list on a summer Friday or easily within a month. You’ll have your finances humming along before you know it.

In this article:

Take a look at your financial goals

Remember those goals you set on New Year’s Day? The ones you swore you’d get around to this year? The summer is a great time to check in on and refine them. No need to worry if you’re a little behind.

Don’t have financial goals? Now’s a great time to clarify what yours are, whether to save in a college-savings fund, pay off debt, build an emergency fund, or save up a down payment for a home. If you want to buy a house or get married in the next year, your budget should reflect those goals.

Financial goals don’t necessarily need to be tied to a life event. All goals — both short-term and long-term — help you keep your finances pointed in the direction that you want to go.

Cheatsheet: How to check, refine, and work toward your goals:

Cleanse your credit

No matter your credit score, ignoring it, or assuming everything’s fine, is a common error. Since you’re the one whose financial goals are at stake, it’s in your best interests to avoid falling into complacency. I’m a big advocate of checking your credit often through one of the mobile credit apps like Credit Sesame or Credit Karma that are free to use and keep you in touch with what’s going on with your credit score.

Here’s a real person story. A client of mine believed she had stellar credit. She went to buy a new couch and decided to put it on their store credit card. Unfortunately, her application was denied.

This confused her. It wasn’t until she looked at her credit report that she realized she had been a victim of fraud and someone used her social security number to open credit cards, make purchases, and then not pay the bills.

Credit scores range from 300-850, and my client’s score had sunk to around 600, which is considered poor credit. Fixing her credit took months.

Check your credit score and your credit report at least two times a year.

Cheatsheet: Simple credit score cleanup strategies

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Get your 401(k) in check

Summer is a great time to check in on your 401(k).

Your 401(k) is likely the first place you started investing, and it can be overlooked during the year — or maybe from the day you set up your portfolio.  One of the most compelling reasons to contribute to your 401(k) is a company match. If your company offers a match, it means they will contribute additional funds to your 401(k).

Let’s say they match 50% up to the first 6% of contribution. In English, that means they will contribute 3% if you contribute 6% of your salary each month in your 401(k).

The 6% that you contribute comes out of your money. The 3% they contribute comes out of their money. Yes, their money.

You don’t want to leave money on the table. There are some pretty good combinations in life like peanut butter and jelly, but the 401(k) and match combination tops that.

You’re not alone if you have no idea what funds to select for your 401(k) but don’t let that stop you from taking full advantage of this benefit if it is offered to you.

Cheatsheet: Consider these strategies as you examine your 401(k)

Negotiate a bill

Negotiation might seem like an unusual item to add to your summer money to-do list. However, negotiating can be a powerful strategy to put more money back into your bank account and make you more aware of bills that may have the potential to be lowered or eliminated.

We’re not talking about the kind of negotiating that will bring sweat beads to your forehead. Instead, think of negotiating as asking questions of your service providers to make sure you’re getting the best deal possible. The worst they can say is no.

Here are a few easy negotiations you might start with:

I’ve been successfully negotiating for interest rate reductions and annual fee reductions on my credit cards for years. I make a calendar event every summer to revisit where I’m currently at and then call the credit card companies right away.

I start with, “I’ve been a long-term customer of your credit card, and I’m interested in seeing if I can get an interest rate reduction.” Fill in the blanks with whatever request you have, but it can really be that easy. Credit card companies may compete for your business because they know you can use another bank’s card.

Cheatsheet: 4 negotiating strategies to keep in mind

Get life insurance (and update any beneficiary info)

If you haven’t yet gotten around to purchasing life insurance, it’s a great thing to add to your to-do list.

Life insurance needs aren't one-size-fits-all.

Calculate your needs

Already have life insurance? Great! But it’s worth your time to pull up your policy and make sure that the beneficiaries you’ve designated are still accurate. It’s also a good time to review any other insurance policies you have, like homeowner’s insurance, or research policies you may be curious about, such as disability insurance, and also make sure that the policies are up to date, any contact info is current, and the coverage matches your expectations of what you should have.

A slow summer Friday can be an excellent day to review policies and paperwork. In addition to life insurance, consider making sure a few other documents are current, too. Take a look at the list below. You’ll want to review coverage levels, beneficiaries, allocations, and other details, depending on the document.

Cheatsheet: Consider reviewing these documents

Remember, small moves can go a long way

These money to-do’s shouldn’t be taxing or make you want to run and hide. The checklist is made up of small, yet important, tasks that can be accomplished in 10 minutes here or half an hour there, and before you know it, you could have the whole list completed. It’s all about finding a rhythm that works for you and one that will keep you motivated to move through the checklist with ease.

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About Shannah Compton Game

Read more by Shannah Compton Game

Our editorial policy

Haven Life is a customer-centric life insurance agency that’s backed and wholly owned by Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual). We believe navigating decisions about life insurance, your personal finances and overall wellness can be refreshingly simple.

Our editorial policy

Haven Life is a customer centric life insurance agency that’s backed and wholly owned by Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual). We believe navigating decisions about life insurance, your personal finances and overall wellness can be refreshingly simple.

Our content is created for educational purposes only. Haven Life does not endorse the companies, products, services or strategies discussed here, but we hope they can make your life a little less hard if they are a fit for your situation.

Haven Life is not authorized to give tax, legal or investment advice. This material is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for tax, legal, or investment advice. Individuals are encouraged to seed advice from their own tax or legal counsel.

Our disclosures

Haven Term is a Term Life Insurance Policy (DTC and ICC17DTC in certain states, including NC) issued by Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual), Springfield, MA 01111-0001 and offered exclusively through Haven Life Insurance Agency, LLC. In NY, Haven Term is DTC-NY 1017. In CA, Haven Term is DTC-CA 042017. Haven Term Simplified is a Simplified Issue Term Life Insurance Policy (ICC19PCM-SI 0819 in certain states, including NC) issued by the C.M. Life Insurance Company, Enfield, CT 06082. Policy and rider form numbers and features may vary by state and may not be available in all states. Our Agency license number in California is OK71922 and in Arkansas 100139527.

MassMutual is rated by A.M. Best Company as A++ (Superior; Top category of 15). The rating is as of Aril 1, 2020 and is subject to change. MassMutual has received different ratings from other rating agencies.

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