5 Things to Do on Personal Inventory Days

This post originally appeared on Forbes. Although I wrote it back in January, I thought since we’re more than halfway through 2018 (!!), now would be a good time for a check-in.

personal inventory days
Photo by STIL on Unsplash

With the first month of the new year nearly over, how are you doing on the goals you set for 2018? If you’re like most people, you’re already slipping or you’ve thrown in the towel completely. Maybe you just need a better way to stay on top of your goals throughout the year.

On a recent episode of the podcast Call Your Girlfriend, Sabrina Hersi Issa, CEO of Be Bold Media and Venture Partner at Jump Canon, shared her method for taking stock of goals, keeping tabs on her finances and simply making time for all of the things most of us know we need to do, but have trouble making time for. It’s called a Personal Inventory Day.

Hersi Issa blocks off a day on her calendar each month and uses that day to check her credit report, look at her savings goals, review her personal budget, schedule doctor’s appointments, track progress on goals and send gratitude notes.

I loved Hersi Issa’s idea so much, I decided to reach out to a few professionals to find more tasks they would recommend for a personal inventory day.

Ego surf

Rhian Sharp, founder and CEO of Sharp Medical Recruiting and HR Consulting says, “One thing I recommend everyone do is a monthly ‘ego surf.’ This involves simply Googling your name to see what information comes up. If you are looking for a job or that next promotion, it’s paramount that you do this at least once a month. You really don’t want incorrect or scandalous information surfacing about you online. If you find something that’s incorrect or inappropriate, do your best to get it cleared.”

Inspect your vehicle

Dr. James Philpot, CFP and associate professor of finance at Missouri State University says, “Inspect your vehicles. This doesn’t sound financial at first, but we spend a lot of money on vehicles and transportation. Inspect your car’s fluid levels and tire inflation – the owner’s manual has directions for doing this properly. A quart of oil costs a few dollars; a new engine costs a few thousand. Proper fluid and air levels also improve gas mileage and safety. While you have the owner’s manual out, check to see if your vehicle is due for scheduled maintenance.”

Update your passwords

Alayna Pehrson, Digital Marketing Strategist at Best Company says, “I recommend you update passwords you use to access any online financial accounts. This can be as simple as switching up a few letters, numbers or even adding an exclamation point or additional characters to each password, as long as you develop a way to remember them. This will help keep your accounts secure, and as long as you’re already there, you can thoroughly review your accounts.”

Shop your insurance policies

Gerri Detweiler, Education Director at Nav, says, “One thing I do every year is shop my insurance policies. Between three vehicles, a motorcycle, a horse trailer and umbrella insurance, this is a high spend category and I don’t want to overpay. I learned this lesson the hard way. The first time I shopped around for a new homeowners insurance policy, I saved over $1,200 by switching. I wish I’d done that sooner!”

Review your memberships

Michael Foguth, founder of Foguth Financial, says, “Review your memberships. Today, everything is set to auto-renew. This includes gym memberships, entertainment, and even app purchases. Something that you set out to use regularly may not be being used as frequently as you had intended. The membership cost may only be a small amount per month, but over a year it can add up. Know when your auto-renew dates are for the month and the year so you can take full advantage of what you have paid for.”

Hersi Issa schedules her personal inventory day for the 16thof each month to coincide with her birthday day, but you can select any day that works for you. Maybe the first Wednesday or last Friday of the month? She also keeps an ongoing list of To-Do items in Evernote for her next personal inventory day. This is genius because writing things down is like unloading mental RAM – it frees up your brain, making it possible to think more clearly.

Thoughtfully managing our personal lives and finances can easily take a back seat to daily life, but if you set aside a few hours each month to give your goals some attention, you can stop feeling guilty about all of the tasks you should be doing and start celebrating your accomplishments. What tasks will you add to your personal inventory day list?

Is checking your credit score on your list? Get 20% off your 3 bureau credit reports at myFICO (<– affiliate link).

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How to Handle Your Finances After Divorce

When I started my freelance writing career, I almost never did interviews for the pieces I wrote. I just researched the topic and went from there. Lately, I’ve been doing a lot more interviews and, despite my tendency toward introversion, I am really coming to enjoy them.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

When Magnify Money asked me to write a guide on handling your financial life after divorce, I got the chance to interview two Certified Divorce Financial Analysts (CDFAs), Dan Burges from Ameriprise in Southlake, TX and Avani Ramnani from Francis Financial in New York, NY.

They had some great advice, not just for the immediate aftermath, but information you can use long after the ink on your divorce decree is dry.

You can check out the guide here.

(Image credit: Daria Nepriakhina via Stocksnap.io)

5 Steps To Improving Your Financial Well-Being In The New Year

New Year’s resolutions get a bad rap. We make resolutions with the best intentions, but research suggests that only 8% of people actually achieve them. Still, there’s something about the promise of a fresh start and a clean slate that makes me set them every year.

 

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Image: Annie Spratt via Unsplash

My goals tend to revolve around health and finances but according to the financial planning company MassMutual, improving our finances can actually have a positive effect on our PHYSICAL well-being by reducing stress levels. In fact, seven out of 10 American workers say financial concerns are their most common cause of stress; nearly half say they find dealing with their financial situation stressful. 

MassMutual suggests taking five steps towards improving your financial well-being which, in turn, will support your physical well-being in the new year.

Make a will

A MassMutual survey of Americans between ages 45 and 60 revealed that three out of five respondents do not have a will. If you are one of those people, make it a priority in the new year to create a will to ensure your loved ones are protected. If you already have a will, take some time in the new year to review beneficiary information and make updates if needed.

Improve your credit score

Just like your new year’s resolution to hit the gym more, boosting your credit score can be painful at first but is ultimately worth the effort. Late payments can have a significant impact on your credit score, so make sure you pay your bills on time each month and pay off balances as quickly as possible (especially on ones with high interest rates).

Save more than you spend

Saving more money than you spend is an essential way to improve your financial situation over time. A good rule-of-thumb is to save at least 10% of your net income each year.

Don’t leave your 401(k) behind

According to a U.S. Government Accountability Office report, the growing use of automatic enrollment in 401(k) plans and shorter job tenures have led to an increasing number of inactive 401(k) accounts. If the new year brings you a new job (or retirement) be sure to rollover your 401(k) to your new employer-sponsored account or an individual retirement account if you are leaving the workforce. If you’re not yet contributing to a retirement plan, do so and ensure that you save at least enough to enjoy your employer’s match if there is one. Don’t leave any free money on the table.

Establish an emergency fund

Whether you experience a job loss, health emergency, or car or home repair, an emergency fund provides a cushion to help you cover unexpected costs without interfering with your financial goals. Include backstops like disability income insurance to protect your income stream should you become seriously ill or injured, and consider life insurance if you have loved ones who depend on your income.

Remember that you may encounter setbacks during the year, but don’t let a minor setback derail your goals. Set aside a little time each month to focus on your financial well-being and 2017 can be your best year yet.

This post originally appeared on Forbes.