If you’re like me, you’ve reached the point during your time at home where you’ve cleaned out your closets, re-learned the rules to UNO and redefined how long something will stay edible in your freezer. As you look for something to occupy your time in the coming weeks, here’s a list of five little things that will help your financial and mental health heading into the summer.
1. Open your mail. Walking to the mailbox each day may be a new part of your routine. I would encourage you to take this time to read your investment statements, insurance documents and other financial information. You may remember that you have a 401k from 2 jobs back or some Disney stock that your grandmother gave you. Take this time to assess what accounts you have and where. You’re likely to find the need to consolidate some of those old accounts and get more organized.
2. Update your beneficiaries. Gather all your insurance policies, retirement accounts, even 529 college savings plans, and verify the beneficiaries on those. They are easily accessible online or by calling the provider. You may have gotten married or had another child. Always a good time to update that information if it hasn’t been done in a while.
3. Develop a monthly budget. You’ve likely been home for going on 8 weeks now. Take a glance at your credit card bills and bank accounts for March and April. The Amazon charges and the grocery bills are likely higher, but what about your other spending? This may give you some insight on what you spend money on and perhaps how you could save more.
4. Keep an eye on your tax return. Many things have changed in 2020 because of COVID-19. Review last year’s tax return and educate yourself on new deductions, income changes and opportunities because of the pandemic. If you haven’t filed your 2019 return, develop a plan to get that done, and if you owe taxes, see goal number 3 above.
5. Write down three things that you have enjoyed during this time alone. It could be time with family, walking your dog, or cooking new food. Write those things down on a notecard or post-it note and put it on your refrigerator or bathroom mirror. Remember those positive experiences and think about implementing them into your life permanently going forward.
The first four of these suggestions can have a significant impact on your financial health both now and in the future. While the fifth task is personal, it too can transform the way you approach life and relationships with those you care about.