Quarterly Finance Reviews Make the Most of your Dollars and Cents
Three in four Americans manage their own money with eyes on the long term, with no outside advice. But barely one in three take the time at least once a year, as most financial advisors recommend, to review their plans.
Life can be unpredictable, so if you are only reviewing your finances annually (or less frequently) you might not be making the best financial decisions. At Patriot Bank, we recommend that you should consider a shorter review period – every three months, to be exact. Keep in mind that a new job, birth of a child, or other life-altering events, may require you to undertake your financial reviews at even shorter intervals.
Why review your finances quarterly?
- Gives you a clear picture of how much money you have and where it’s going
- Keeps your focus on your short- and long-term financial goals
- Actively engaging with your personal finance enables you to make timely adjustments to your finances, to boost savings and investments, or reduce what you owe
- Knowing that you have a sustainable personal financial plan and/or budget minimizes stress and enhances confidence for you and your household
How do I get my financial review underway?
- Get organized: Log into your account and obtain your latest quarterly bank/credit union e-statement for your checking- and savings account; statements or receipts for your mortgage or rent; auto and other personal loans. It’s also a good time to assemble three-month records of transactions involving the purchase, sale and performance of stocks, bonds, mutual funds and other securities. A simple way to list and track the past performance of each is with a financial spreadsheet like Excel, or an online wealth-tracking or budgeting tool.
- Analyze results: As you reconcile the transactions listed on your checking and savings statements, be on the alert for signs of fraud, such as ATM withdrawals that appear excessive or occur in locations outside your regular sphere of travel.
Review credit-card statements for errors, such as double-billing for products and services, or charges you don’t recognize. This also would be a good time to re-check your credit report, for errors or omissions.
If you use direct deposit to your checking, savings or retirement accounts, verify that quarterly deposit dates and sums are in sync with your employer’s payroll records.
Check findings against your long-term financial plan
Your long-term plan is basically your personal fiscal manual for earning, managing and growing your money. It should be firm as to your goals, but adjustable based on changes in your household, your job or the local and U.S. economies.
- Am I getting the highest interest rates on my interest-bearing checking and savings accounts?
- Should I reallocate funds to pay off my home or auto loan, credit cards and other debts?
- Am I saving and investing enough for a comfortable retirement?
- Should I rebalance my securities portfolio to take advantage of market opportunities, or to hedge against market downturns and inflation?
What if I’m an entrepreneur or self-employed?
Quarterly also is an ideal time to analyze and reassess yours and your business’ estimated income and profits as well as business checking, business savings and retirement accounts using the same organizing and review tips listed above. Take these steps:
- Examine your submitted quarterly state and federal tax withholding sums for compliance. If your business or self-employment withholdings are in deficit, move immediately to remedy the shortfall with your state or federal Internal Revenue Service, rather than put it off until tax-filing season and risk incurring penalties. If your withholding is surplus, you can act promptly to fix that, too.
- Businesses have credit scores, so review those, too. It’s not a bad idea to check with your local Better Business Bureau for any outstanding or negative customer reviews and remedy them. Check on and update your firm’s compliance with all mandated state or local business licenses, certifications and registrations.
Financially plan today for a wealthier tomorrow
Crafting and reviewing your financial plan and assets can be time-consuming and burdensome, but you needn’t go it alone.
Contact Patriot Bank about ways to make your quarterly personal financial review more effective in meeting your financial goals. If you want help establishing and reviewing a financial plan, our wealth-management advisors are ready to assist you.