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Fall’s a Great Time to Get Finances on Track

Sept. 9, 2015
Fall’s a Great Time to Get Finances on Track
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By Jamie Ebersole

Learn more about Jamie on NerdWallet’s Ask an Advisor

September marks the end of summer and the start of the frantic dash toward the end of the year. Before life becomes too chaotic once again, it’s a good time to take a fresh look at your financial situation. Here are three things you can do now to reduce your financial stress and gain a greater sense of control as you approach the holiday season.

1. Revisit your financial goals and check your progress

Set aside an hour one Saturday or Sunday to sit down (with your spouse or partner, if you have one) and review your major financial goals and the progress you’ve made toward achieving them. Research consistently shows that families with a clear financial plan are more likely to achieve their goals than those without one. If you don’t have a plan, make one now.

2. Take stock of any changes or expected changes

Have you recently changed jobs? Sold a business? Retired? Have you bought a house? Gotten married? Had a baby, or have one coming? Think about any changes you may need to make in your budget, your life and disability insurance coverage, your estate-planning documents (wills, trusts, etc.), and your tax withholding. Be sure to consult with your tax, investment or other advisors. They will likely be happy to hear from you before the year-end rush.

3. Think about charitable donations

Many people wait until the end of the year to make their charitable donations. By taking care of this early, you can alleviate the stress of year-end fundraising calls. You can also use the additional time to focus on making your chartable planning decisions an enjoyable family activity. Including children in the charitable giving process is a great way to pass on your values and give them a chance to make an impact. Setting aside a few hours on a weekend for family members to discuss their individual charitable giving wishes and choose worthy causes together can be fun and formative. Just make sure to have some treats on hand — and to allow everyone’s voice to be heard.

The end of summer vacation season and the start of school can bring a sense of dread as the rat race speeds up again. By reviewing your financial situation before the crunch at the end of the year, you can reduce your stress and make significant progress toward achieving your goals.

Image via iStock.