Modifying your investing strategies. Now may be a good time to rebalance your portfolio – a practice in which investors periodically adjust their mix of investments to keep them in line with their target asset allocation. "As the market rises, we get complacent and just leave our money where it is, and we don't think about whether there are better places to invest that money," says Philip Hogg, a certified financial planner in Chicago.
Other consumers make the mistake of reacting to the market's daily shifts, says Adam Sherman, chief executive officer at Firstrust Financial Resources in Philadelphia. "Even if you're tracking your account [activity] live on your BlackBerry, I wouldn't get caught up in the day-to-day noise," Sherman says. If you have a tendency to make impulse trades, consider conducting in-depth studies of your investment portfolio in June and December, and commit to making stock trades only after those analyses.
Sticking to a budget. If you haven't already, create a budget using an online tool like Mint.com to track your monthly expenditures. From there, develop a plan to cut costs on discretionary living expenses that are straining your wallet. (Many consumers spend excessively on dining out and weekend entertainment.) Joe Heider, a certified financial planner at Rehmann Financial in Cleveland, Ohio, says consumers should ideally save 10 percent of their net income each month, but even saving 2 percent would be a significant improvement for many Americans.
Building a rainy-day fund into your budget provides financial protection from unanticipated events, like a major car repair. As such, financial planners say it's crucial to put a portion of your savings into an emergency fund you can easily access that would cover three to six months' worth of living expenses if you were to lose your job.
[See: 50 Smart Money Moves.]
Shopping smarter with coupons. Coupon expert and syndicated columnist Jill Cataldo says spending just 30 minutes a week compiling coupons can help stretch your budget. Consumers can find coupons easily on websites such as RetailMeNot.com and Coupons.com, on mobile apps like Grocery iQ and in newspaper inserts. Cataldo recommends consumers hone their coupon shopping skills at the store they frequent the most, rather than try to find coupons for every retailer they visit. "You don't have to save $60 or $70 the first week out," she says. "Just saving $10 to $20 a week adds up [to] between $40 and $80 in savings each month."
Scoring a salary hike. Everyone would welcome a raise, and you can increase your chances of landing one by displaying what you've done to deserve it. With midyear reviews coming up, now is a good time to broach the subject, says Margaret McLean Walsh, a career coach in New York City. Talk with your boss to get a clear picture of what success looks like. "Be specific, so you get feedback you can work with," Walsh says. Exceeding those expectations and continuing to show your worth to the company will help you gain your boss's favor and position you for success come December, which is when most companies plan for 2014 salaries.