What if you could build something more with your investments? What would that look like? First, you need to know where you stand with your finances.
You’ve worked and planned and invested so you can enjoy your life when it’s time to retire. But if you could build something more with your investments, what would that look like?
Maybe that means you could finally get season tickets to watch your favorite college football team.
Or spend a week visiting the next national park on your travel bucket list.
Or build a little shed in your backyard so you can expand your flower gardens.
To scale up your plans, first you need to know where your finances stand. You could accomplish that in about an hour and a half on a rainy Sunday afternoon.
Here are 3 steps to getting your household financial snapshot.
Use our 3 steps worksheet (PDF) to log your information as you go.
Financial snapshot step 1: Log into your financial accounts.
Estimated time: 10 minutes.
Nearly every type of financial account has online access. If you haven’t already done it, take a few minutes to set up usernames and passwords.
Check your primary accounts where you have money, such as:
- Investments: This may include mutual funds, stocks, bonds, and exchangetraded funds (ETFs).
- 401(k) or 403(b) account or an IRA: Get a current picture of your core retirement savings (which are also investments).
- Bank account: Look at checking, savings, and CDs.
Financial snapshot step 2: Check your insurance coverage.
Estimated time: five minutes.
Income and assets are vulnerable to unpredictable events. Would you have to tap into your retirement savings to cover your income, for example, if you become too sick to work?
To help sustain your financial goals, look over your policies to see if you have enough life and disability insurance coverage for your current lifestyle.
If you work for a company that has a life insurance benefit for employees, look up how much coverage you have. (And check on disability insurance benefits, too.) Those are good numbers to round out the full picture of your coverage.
Financial snapshot step 3: Understand your spending habits.
Estimated time: one hour.
Yes, we’re talking about the dreaded “b” word: budgeting
“Some people resist doing a budget because they think it’s going to restrict them from spending the way they want,” says Matt Fitzgerald, a financial professional with Principal® in St. Louis.
But consider a different perspective.
“Think of it as your monthly cash flow, or a spending plan,” Fitzgerald says. “Give yourself permission to decide where and how you spend your money. But you still need to know what’s coming in, and then where it’s going.”
Get started by using our downloadable household budget worksheet (PDF) to write down your numbers. Look at recent bills plus bank and credit card statements to give you the real facts.
Add up your income. Subtract your expenses. And see what’s left. How much of that could you put toward your investments? Log the numbers on the worksheet.
Get a snapshot of your retirement savings. Log in to principal.com to see how you’re progressing toward your retirement goals. Don’t have an employer-sponsored retirement account? We can help you set up your own retirement savings with an IRA or Roth IRA account.
This article is intended to be educational in nature and is not intended to be taken as a recommendation.
Matt Fitzgerald, Principal National and Principal Life Financial Representative, Principal Securities Registered Representative, Financial Advisor.