Spring Cleaning Your Finances

April is National Financial Literacy Month, a 30-day celebration of learning and sharing to promote financial literacy in America. Okay, that sounds good, but what is financial literacy?

Financial literacy is having the ability to understand and effectively use financial skills to manage the money you earn, budget expenses, and invest for the future. These are the basic building blocks of financial wellness and security and can be learned at any age.

Teaching financial skills to your children is as important as teaching a baby not to touch a hot stove, a pre-schooler how to tie a shoe, a grade-schooler how to have good manners, and a teen how to develop and distinguish meaningful personal relationships. Children with strong financial skills will lead happier, more stable lives. A child’s best teacher is your good example.

And have we mentioned that it is April? Yes, we have. And is April spring-cleaning month in Ohio? Yes it is! So we thought we’d share some ideas for spring cleaning your finances.

  1. Organize your financial files, whether paper or electronic. If paper, run through a document scanner; upload the electronic files to 2 separate external hard drives that you then store in separate places, in case you lose one. 
  2. Write down your short- and long-term financial goals. Check your aspirations against your emergency funds, rate of savings, investment returns, and other financial matters until you have a clear, honest appraisal of your financial future.
  3. Make a budget (I know it’s so hard; but it’s really important) and to make it easier, think of it as a “clever method of designing your lifestyle”.
  4. Review all your recurring expenses; include things you might lose track of, like club dues, subscriptions, and anything that you download to a device that resembles a phone, tablet, computer, or TV. Cancel what you don’t need and be sure what you must keep is correctly priced.
  5. Review your retirement planning. No one but you and your family care about this, so you have to take the initiative to verify that you’re on the right track for the future you visualize today.
  6. If you got a tax refund last year, or if you owed more than you were comfortable owing, now is the time to adjust your income tax withholding with your employer or with your tax professional.
  7. We hate to remind you, but you’re a year older and there may have been changes in your family and your health situations. Make sure your health insurance coverage is correct for this phase of your and your family’s life.
  8. Make saving automatic. If you don’t, there’s always a reason not to save (the baby needs new shoes, daddy needs new wheels, mom needs a kitchen makeover). 
  9. Call us if you need help. 

So what about teaching those kids? Forbes Advisor offers an excellent resource for adults who want to help teach kids about family budgets, saving accounts, good money habits, authorizing kids to use your credit card, and teaching teens about borrowing and paying back loans.

DLMoneyMatters wants you to spend more time doing the things you love while still having the basic building blocks of financial wellness and security in place. Let us know how we can help.