For most of us, managing our money is just another chore, like mopping the floors or switching out the air filters. It’s something we dread doing, and if we’re lucky, we only need to check in on our money once a month or so.
Obviously, some things (like paying your bills) should be done more than once a month, but there are some financial to-do’s that you can tackle every four weeks. These tasks will keep you on track without overloading you with daily money chores.
Every 30 days or so, take an hour to address the following list. Trust me: it’ll give you some peace of mind and ensure you’re doing everything you need to in terms of financial security.
Do a Soft Pull on Your Credit Score
Although you don’t want to do a “hard” pull on your credit report too often, it’s smart to use one of your credit card accounts or another app to check your credit score without affecting it. This helps you monitor for unapproved activity and make sure your credit score is staying in good shape. Soft pulls aren’t as accurate as hard pulls, but they’re fairly close and harmless to your score.
If your credit score is lower than you want it to be, this is your chance to respond to negative changes quickly. Missed a payment? Call your credit card company and ask them to waive it. Lost points because you applied for a loan? Freeze your credit so that you’re not tempted to apply for anything else in the near future. By checking your credit score often, you’ll become more adept at making necessary changes to keep it at a healthy number.
Check in on Your Net Worth’s Progress
I’ve talked about the importance of net worth before, but it’s not something that’s worth checking on a daily basis because it typically grows slowly. However, you should take a look at your overall worth at least once a month to ensure it’s progressing the way you want it to. The better understanding you have of your big financial picture, the easier it is to make smart decisions over the course of the next month.
Look Over Your Spending Habits
I’ll admit that budgeting isn’t effective for every kind of spender, but everyone should know where their money goes each month. Take time to sit down and figure out how you’re distributing your spending. Are you spending an obnoxious amount on eating out? Is your insurance costing you more than a high percentage of your monthly income? Keep an eye on everything so you know when you’re overspending.
Move at Least 10 Percent into a Savings Account
It always blows my mind when I read that 39 percent of Americans have enough savings to cover a $1,000 emergency. About 44 percent can’t even cover a $400 emergency expense! No wonder most of us are incredibly stressed about money.
To prevent yourself from stumbling into debt or panic, try to squirrel away at least 10 percent of your monthly income to prepare for emergencies. Experts recommend that your monthly personal savings should be at least that high, but many people are only saving around 5.6 percent.
Take One Hour to Secure Your Financial Future
Today, roughly 49 percent of Americans are “concerned, anxious, or fearful about their current financial well-being.” If thinking about a monthly financial to-do list makes you queasy, know that you’re not alone.
However, I can assure you that being more aware of your money problems is the best route to take in the long-run. Just take one afternoon each month to sit down and take a hard look at your spending, debt, credit score, and savings. Your sacrifice will pay off for years in the future.