The year is halfway over, and for many of us, it went really fast. But don’t let the time fly by without doing a half-year check-in on your personal finance goals. Here are 9 things to check on your mid-year to-do list.
1. Review investing decisions. Make sure your mix of investments, in all of your accounts, fits your risk tolerance and not your emotions. The market has really revved up this year with some record highs and noticeable drops. Did you get a little overly enthusiastic with a particular fund or type of investment? Did you get cold feet when the volatility hit? It’s easy to let emotions guide your investing decisions. Instead, create an investment mix, or allocation, for each account based on your risk tolerance, expected length of time invested and financial goals.
2. Rebalance your portfolio. Even if you do have a well-planned mix of investments, midyear is a good time to see if the allocations are in line with what you originally set. Over time, fund performance can shift your portfolio as some funds may do better than others. Regular rebalancing helps keep your portfolio at the appropriate risk level.
3. Increase your savings plan contribution amount by a notch. A good way to reduce the impact of making regular contribution increases is to up the ante twice yearly – at the beginning of the year and again at midyear. You might tolerate larger savings contributions by hiking them gradually. Even a half-percentage or one-percentage point increase, if added regularly, will make a difference down the road.
4. Check in on your 401(k) plan. See whether there have been any fund changes. If so, look over the new funds to see how they fit your personal situation and investing goals . Compare mutual funds from the same asset class to decide whether it’s time for a change. While past performance shouldn’t be your only comparison point, it can be helpful to look at one-, five- and 10-year fund returns relative to peers and the benchmark the fund is measured against.
5. Adjust your tax withholding. The 2012 tax season has passed, and you should have a pretty good idea what’s happening with your 2013 taxable income by this point. Make any necessary adjustments to your withholdings now so you don't up having to pay more in April or end up waiting for a refund because you paid too much.
6. Start saving for the holidays. Yes — already! If you put money aside now, you’ll be better positioned to prevent a huge dent in your budget (or being tempted to dip into your retirement savings) during November and December.
7. Speaking of budget … Reassess your budget. Compare your actual expenditures with the amount you had planned to spend each month. If the two don’t align, then either make changes to your budget or adjust your spending habits. It’s not too late to get on track for 2013.
8. Check in on your medical spending and medical Flexible Spending Account, if you have one. Do you have a medical insurance deductible to meet, and if so, where do you stand? If you have a medical FSA, how much of that money have you used? Have you submitted all receipts for reimbursement?
9. Reward your mid-year financial work. Make time for some serious relaxation. And wear sunscreen. Have a great summer vacation!