Are you still working on your New Year’s resolution? If so, congratulations! If not, it’s okay. It happens to the best of us. But that doesn’t mean this month isn’t a great time to do a quick life checkup—to assure that everything from your finances to insurance to basic health is in good order.
There are probably more than five things we should all review at the onset of each new year, but thinking about all the nuances that populate a comprehensive checklist can be exhausting, not to mention overwhelming. Start simple; start basic. Start here with these five areas where you can perform a quick life checkup.
1. Your Budgets
If you didn’t do it in January, because you were too busy crunching your abs at the gym, review your expenses this February. There is still a solid 10 months left in 2016, so you can make cost-cutting a priority starting now. Don’t yet have monthly budgets you follow? Before you start creating them out of thin air, spend this month gathering data by simply tracking your expenses. Thirty days should be enough time to give you a picture of where you are—a necessary step to take before you can determine where you want to be. Check out an online aggregator that links to all of your accounts like Mint or Goodbudget for a free, visual look at your spending trends.
2. Your Health
Even if you haven’t actually been busy at the gym, there’s a pretty simple and sustainable way to burn off all the calories you consume and meet the official exercise guidelines for adults that suggest 2.5 hours of moderate-intensity exercise each week: walking. That’s right, get to stepping! It’s the most basic form of exercise, in that you don’t need training or special equipment—just a good pair of athletic shoes. Get a pedometer for as little as $25 and press play on a new podcast (“Serial” season 2 is now available) while you walk at a pace of three m.p.h. (or a 20-minute mile) for 10,000 steps a day (that’s about five miles). Do that and you’ll meet the requirements for basic exercise put forth by these smart researchers at Harvard.
3. Your Credit Cards
As you review the plastic in your wallet this month, make a list of those credit card benefits most important to you—these days, every credit card seems to cater to a specific type of customer. With your priorities in mind, head on over to NerdWallet to weigh your options. Do you want a huge sign-up bonus, or do you prefer generous travel rewards with no foreign transaction fee for that upcoming trip to Europe? How about six percent cash back on groceries and three percent back on gas? If you need a lower APR, find a card with a year of no interest and a $0 introductory balance transfer fee. Are you a student? Maybe look at a card with 2X rewards on dining and entertainment. Run a small business? There are recommendations for you, too.
With tax season fast approaching, this month is a perfect time to see that you’ve contributed the maximum allowable amount to your IRA—not just guaranteeing yourself a comfortable future, but also securing all the federal tax deductions you can take for 2015. Some of this savings talk ties back into budgeting (see above), but a few months before tax day on April 18 this year is also a great time to roll-over an old IRA—just make sure to get a direct transfer from custodian to custodian so that you aren’t inadvertently forced to pay taxes on the amount, and an early withdrawal fee!
5. Your Insurance
Last, but certainly not least, check the status of all your insurance policies. As they come up for renewal, this is an ideal time to evaluate if your life circumstances have changed in the last year (marriage, house, baby, job change). If you checked yes to any of these items, call your insurance agent immediately to see how your rates will be affected. Even if all is status quo, you should still contact an AIS agent at (888) 772-4247 to assure that you’re getting the best rate on all of your policies. We’ll run an instant calculation, checking with over 30 of our partner insurance providers to get you the most affordable coverage—coverage that both saves you money and keeps you protected financially. Seriously, you’ll be surprised. You could save hundreds, or even thousands, of dollars this year.
The information in this article was obtained from various sources. This content is offered for educational purposes only and does not represent contractual agreements, nor is it intended to replace manuals or instructions provided by the manufacturer or the advice of a qualified professional. The definitions, terms and coverage in a given policy may be different than those suggested here and such policy will be governed by the language contained therein. No warranty or appropriateness for a specific purpose is expressed or implied.