My Money, My Choices
Gail Vaz-Oxlade is a personal finance writer, television host and radio broadcaster. Every Wednesday, she arms Metro readers with tips to keep spending in check.
Take control of your finances with a 'Money Day'
Sure, sometimes you need a sick day to get over a bad bout of the weekend, but maybe you should take a day just for your wallet.
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Life’s busy, isn’t it? And so often we feel like there just isn’t enough time to get everything done. Between work and schlepping the kids to their activities, dinner, laundry, the lawn and getting the car tuned up, where’s the “me time”?
There’s nothing like having a day off work. Whether you’ve booked it off to go on that school outing with the kids or to visit with a friend you haven’t seen in years, those vacation days are treasures. Sometimes you have to take a sick day to get over a bad bout of the weekend. And sometimes you need a mental-health day to get yourself out of the miasma that life has swirled you into.
Imagine if you had a whole day to focus on your money and get it back on track. It’d be the day when you look at all the things that aren’t just humming along and find ways to improve them.
What would you do on your Money Day?
1. Call your insurance broker and make sure you’ve got the best deal on your home and auto insurance. While you’re at it, if you’ve been putting off putting life and disability insurance in place, get the ball rolling.
2. Add up your debts and make sure you’re on track to get it paid off within a reasonable time frame. Haven’t done a debt-repayment plan yet? Hey, this is the perfect day to do it.
3. Review your bank statements for your accounts and make sure you aren’t paying too much in bank charges. Are you earning as much as you can on your savings? If not, look around online at the high-interest-rate options available to earn more money on your hard-earned savings.
4. Review your budget. You should do this at least once a year. Better yet, twice. Are you spending what you planned? Have some categories grown over the past few months, necessitating that you trim back elsewhere? Are there expenses that have crept up slowly and are now eating more of your money than you’d imagined? Get out the paring knife.
5. Look over your retirement plan. Don’t have one yet? Open up a retirement savings plan and start setting aside $25 a month for your future. Make a date (put it in your calendar) to up the amount to $50 a month because you’ve found a way to trim some money from your nice-to-have expenses. If you’ve been diligently saving for the future, review your investments and see if you’re happy with the way things are going.
Your Money Day is also the day you put your will and your powers of attorney into place (finally!) and have a visit with your money team (investment advisor, insurance broker, etc.) to make sure they’re keeping you front and centre in their minds. Hey, they’re busy too. You have to make sure they’re thinking about you.
Whatever needs tweaking, tweak. And if you’re on track with where you wanted to be financially, imagine how fabulous you’ll feel at day’s end.