Regularly assessing and adjusting your overall money management plan is an integral step in meeting your financial goals. It’s easy to set up streamlined services such as automatic payments; however, avoid remaining in autopilot year-round. When was the last time you sat down and did a complete deep dive into your finances? Chances are it’s been a while, even though reevaluating how the economy and personal circumstances affect your financial plan can help you save money in the long run. Grab our financial plan worksheet, block out some time and follow these simple steps to ensure you are on track to reach your financial goals.

1. How are your finances currently?

First, assess your current overall financial situation. Document all accounts you have with their balance and APY, such as checking and savings, and don’t forget about 401ks or HSA/FSAs. List out everything that enters or exists your accounts: income, bills, subscriptions and loan payments, for instance. Consider any changes that have occurred in the past year.

Don’t only focus on the numbers. Think about how you feel about your finances as you get a clearer picture of your situation; this can indicate your financial well-being. Do you feel confident that you have the relevant knowledge to make decisions, or do you feel unsure about how to manage your money? Are you happy with your emergency savings cushion, or are you drowning in payments and don’t know where to turn? Take the time to reflect.

2. Financial goals

Next, identify your original financial goals and how they have shifted. This is an opportunity to reflect on how any significant life changes affected your finances. Did you have a baby and now need to consider college savings options? Got married and need to merge financial plans? Left an old job or got a new job? While examining how personal circumstances impacted your plans, you can also take this time to assess how the economic climate has influenced your purchasing power. With inflation and higher interest rates, there are both potential pitfalls and unique opportunities.

3. Strategies

If you had clear money goals, most likely you were taking steps to meet them, such as setting aside a certain amount of your paycheck into savings each pay period. Many times, these strategies need to be adjusted as circumstances change. Do any of your strategies need to be revaluated? If some of your plans were too ambitious and you’re finding it difficult to meet them, create more manageable steps or adjust your goals. If you’ve recently paid off a loan or debt, could that amount still be set aside for another useful purpose?

4. Revamp the plan

Now that you’ve taken a holistic look at your finances and seen how life changes have affected your money management plan, it’s time to adjust that plan for the year. The two main areas to focus on are your goals and strategies to achieve them. Here are some suggestions for financial goals:

  • Spend less overall
  • Dedicate one month (or more) as a no-shop period where only essentials are bought
  • Explore more long-term products for maximum benefits, such as wealth management opportunities or certificates of deposit
  • Set up an emergency fund
  • Save up for a big purchase
  • Find a secondary source of income
  • Have more spending money for a particular hobby
  • Donate regularly to an important cause

Now that you have identified your main financial goals, you’ll need strategies, or actionable steps, to achieve them. The strategies you select will be specific to your financial situation and goals, but may include:

  • Budget adjustment
  • Changing auto, home or renter’s insurance
  • Shopping around for different internet and phone plans
  • Omitting expenses such as unused streaming services, gym or club memberships
  • Researching investment options with the help of a professional

How Earthmover Credit Union Can Help

If you are struggling to manage your finances, we are here to help. We provide extensive resources to support our members. Not sure where to start? Meeting with one of our certified financial counselors can be a fantastic first step in handling your unique situation. In addition to money management skills, we can identify products and services to help save you money. Stop by a branch or give us a call at (630) 844-4950.

We also offer free money management courses online that cover topics such as credit scores, emergency savings, taxes, identity protection and more. Our auto loan, mortgage loan and budget calculators make it easy to plan. Learning about these topics will help you take charge of your financial future.

You don’t have to go it alone or feel stressed by money. ECU is your financial partner for life, which means we are alongside you every step of the way. Responsible money management does not mean that every expense has to be planned in advance or that you shouldn’t enjoy nonessential shopping. Instead, financial management allows room for spontaneous purchases by assessing priorities and opportunities to save. Ultimately, financial freedom is about making choices about the life you want to live. Take the time to review your financial plan and make sure it aligns with the future you envision.