At One, we celebrate even the smallest of financial victories. That’s why we’re big believers in creating a financial checklist. A strong financial checklist not only helps you take effective stock of your current finances, it can also help you plan for the future and meet any specific money goals you’ve set for yourself or your loved ones.
A financial checklist is an important tool at any time, but certainly now more so than ever. People all across the world, across all industries and roles, are feeling the impacts of these unprecedented times. It’s understandable to feel a sense of uncertainty about what the future holds. While it’s impossible to predict the future, creating a thorough financial checklist can help put you in a stronger spot today and feel more prepared for what comes.
Ready to get started? We tapped our team of experts at One to identify five key things to do when creating your financial checklist.
- Answer this question: How much are you really spending? Take a detailed look at your spending over the past 3–6 months. What are your set costs for housing/rent, utilities, childcare or caregivers for parents, groceries and household necessities, student loan payments and other debt? How much are you spending on entertainment and dining out? Having a complete picture of your total expenditures each month can help you feel more in control of your budget. It will also provide you with a better understanding of true financial responsibilities each month and where you can trim if needed.
- Identify non-essential expenses you can cut. Subscriptions are a good place to start. Many of us have multiple monthly subscriptions; in fact, a WestMonroe study found the average American spends $237.33 a month on monthly subscription fees! Chances are, you may be paying for subscriptions you don’t need. Start by taking stock of your active subscriptions and trim to the ones you use the most. There are now many different tools that can help you track all your subscriptions and cancel any you aren’t using regularly. Some streaming providers offer bundle deals that may help you save money by combining your existing subscriptions into one lower-cost offering. For example, Hulu, Disney+, and ESPN+ have teamed up with a package.
- Shop around. According to Consumer Reports, only about one in five people made a change to their auto insurance policy in the past five years. Their survey also found that 80 percent of those who switched carriers got better rates! It doesn’t end with car insurance; talking with your cell phone provider or cable provider about how to lower your bill, or shopping around for lower-cost providers, could potentially net you savings as well. This is also effective when it comes to your savings and banking accounts. Rather than having your money sit somewhere without earning any interest, look into our high-yield save Pockets. One offers 1% APY in your Save Pockets and 3% in your Auto-Save Pocket, which can help your hard-earned money grow more quickly over time.
- Make a plan for tackling debt. Create a spreadsheet to list your debt, current interest rates, and payment dates. Once you have a good sense of your existing debts, you can start paying them off. Start small — for example, by setting up automatic payments for the minimum on all your payments to ensure you aren’t hit with late fees. If you have a credit card with a high-interest rate, consider a balance transfer to a credit card offering a zero percent interest rate for an introductory period. From there, you can look into strategies like the Snowball Method or the Debt Avalanche method to begin paying off outstanding debts.
- Grow an emergency fund. Many experts recommend an emergency fund with 3–6 months worth of money to cover your regular expenses. This can feel daunting, especially if you haven’t started a fund yet. But even a few dollars added here or there can start to build the foundation of a cushion you can tap into when needed. If you do get a tax refund this year or receive a check through the Federal stimulus bill that you don’t need at the moment, depositing the funds into your emergency account is recommended over retirement funds — but paying off debt should definitely be the first priority.
These are just five of the essential steps to put on your financial checklist.