It’s July. We are more than halfway through 2018 and in a blink of an eye, it will be December. Just a few months ago, we were setting goals for the year and establishing our budgets. Six months into the new habits, it is time to evaluate. Waiting for the end of the year to assess whether you’ve kept on track can be too late.
As July rolls around, there are important financial decisions to be made if your goal is to reach the end of year proud of your personal finances in 2018. Summer is a tricky season. Like the holiday season at the end of the year, letting go of your discipline can put you in some severe financial binds. Everybody travels, employees take time off, there are fun activities to participate in and it all cost money. So many people get in debt in the summer just to keep up with the Joneses. Sometimes, it is just pure negligence.
If you’ve been following Money-Smart Millennials, you know that my main objective is your financial stability. If you haven’t subscribed yet, make sure you join us. So, how do we keep track of our goals in this pivotal month of July to reach the end of the year holding the victory flag?
It is time to reevaluate your budget
Setting up a budget is just like pulling driving directions on your phone for a destination. I’ve done hundreds of roads trip all over the east coast and many times, I’ve had to take detours and every time, the GPS would recalculate and provide a new route. When we set up our budgets in December or January for the new year, we do not plan for unexpected. There may have been fixed expenses added to your budget which you did not plan for. For example, my internet bill just went up by $25 because the promotional discount period ended. Maybe, you received a raise at work and now your income is $300 higher every month. Look at your monthly savings and your overall savings account for the year. Are you tracking to meet the objective you set six months ago? In some cases, the budget may look perfect but the savings account is not where it should be. This means that you have not been as disciplined as you should have and have used the money in your savings for expenditures or there have been emergencies. Whatever, the reason may be, July is a time to reset your budget or even redesign a new one.
Decide whether you can afford a vacation
The average American family will spend over $1,000 this summer on travel. Last year, over $100 billion were spend on vacation in the US. $100 billion! Needless to say, people around you will be spending money on vacation and naturally it will affect you. When everybody is ‘having fun’, out of the office and not working, what should you do? The first step is to analyze your finances and decide whether you can afford a vacation. Being able to afford a vacation does not mean that you have the cash. Rather, it means that if you spend the money, you will still be on track to reach your goals. When you have planned time off or a trip, by all means, go for it. However, deciding to spend $1000 or more when you have not reached your goals and are not financially stable is a huge mistake. Delay gratification this year and consider other ways to relax without spending too much money this summer.
Manage your credit cards
Credit card management is a strategic endeavor, especially when you have balances. If you are currently trying to pay down a credit card balance, you must not use it anymore. Review your budget and decide a monthly payment that you can allocate towards it. It is important to stay consistent in your plan because getting out of debt will improve your credit score.
In some cases, you may have to do a consolidation. I recommend consolidating with a credit card that offer a 0% fee on balance transfer for at least 12 months. This will give you time to pay off the principal comfortably without worrying about additional unnecessary interest.
Reinvent your LinkedIn profile
LinkedIn has revolutionized the professional world and particularly the job market. If you do not have an active profile on the network and are not visiting the website regularly, you may be missing out on career changing opportunities. I run into a lot of professionals who do not use LinkedIn simply because they are not currently in the job market. This mindset is outdated. For millennials, we live in a time when competition is at its highest and an interactive resume is more effective than a PDF file. LinkedIn provide the platform to maximize your chances.
Reaching financial stability could mean finding a new job with a better salary. Constantly applying for jobs online without the connection aspect provided by LinkedIn is like running a race on foot while others are cycling. You will simply lose.
Fix what’s broken
During the winter, it is sometimes challenging to keep track of duties such as car maintenance or other maintenance in the home. When spring rolls around, we tend to focus on spring cleaning and any important maintenance is often neglected. When a car or an appliance needs to be fixed or maintained, waiting can only worsen the issue. This month of July, commit to do any car maintenance you may need to do. It may cost you now but delaying will only add to the expenses as the problems get worse.
These are a few crucial financial decisions you must make before it is too late. Start with the budget and you will position yourself on the right side of financial stability.